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http://www.football365.com/story/0,17033,8652_3556144,00.html

Liverpool boss Rafael Benitez on Monday suggested Martin O'Neill should come to terms with the prospect of losing captain Gareth Barry.

Aston Villa manager O'Neill insisted he and American owner Randy Lerner will make a last-ditch attempt to keep Barry - a £10million target for the Reds - at at the club.

But Benitez said in the Liverpool Echo: "If your captain wants to leave, it's a problem, but that's football."

The Spaniard's latest comments are bound to further anger O'Neill, who was furious last week at the manner of Liverpool's approach for the England midfielder.

The Villa boss attacked Benitez when he was told the Spaniard had claimed to have had "prolonged discussions" with him about Barry, even though Benitez had never been quoted as saying that.

Liverpool's manager has staunchly defended his actions, saying: "I think the right approach when you want to sign a player is to talk to the manager.

"I was talking to Martin O'Neill. I said we would like to sign Gareth Barry and asked what the situation was.

"He just said he needed to talk to the owner and I said okay. He will not have any problems with his supporters because he never said to me he wanted to sell Barry.

"We were also talking about (Liverpool goalkeeper) Scott Carson because they have the option to sign him.

"We were just talking about football so why he was so angry, I do not know.

"I have been very clear. The player had said before that he wanted to play Champions League football. We knew that and so tried to sign a good player. It is that simple.

"If your captain wants to leave, it is a problem, but that's football."

O'Neill and Lerner will make one last bid to keep hold of Barry in the next 48 hours.

O'Neill said: "I wouldn't want to be saying how confident we are (of keeping Barry). It's a different era we live in. We will see.

"All I know is he has never expressed one iota of unhappiness in my time at Villa Park. He might not have stayed that long had he been really unhappy before.

"We are going to be sitting down very shortly and discussing Gareth's future. We won't let this lie.

"I am going to see the chairman in the next couple of days and, with a bit of luck, the two of us together might be able to persuade him to stay.

"I say persuade him - but he still has two years left on his contract."

O'Neill added: "Gareth is a demigod at Villa Park. He has that reputation and he is playing for England and he has not had to move to another club to do that.

"He has been particularly brilliant for us. We want to improve the team and our best chance of doing that is to keep our best players and adding some quality."

Barry admitted he had been affected by all the speculation over his future but was outstanding Sunday's 2-2 draw at West Ham which secured an Intertoto Cup spot for Villa.

O'Neill said: "Gareth might have been affected by the speculation last week but I thought he was back to his best at against West Ham.

"He did splendidly for us. You would not have thought he had anything else other than a win on his mind."

O'Neill also criticised Benitez, suggesting Liverpool had leaked their initial bid for the player to the media.

But Benitez said: "We made an offer but I think we were straight. When you make an official offer, you do so by fax. Some people see the fax and you cannot control everything.

"The Birmingham press found out about the offer and it was not our fault. They were very clever and used that information.

"I was talking with Martin O'Neill 20 days before that and nobody knew. We were doing things properly. We are waiting now to see what happens next."


- I have less and less respect for Rafa. I really hope they do not get him, just like they failed to sign that ungrateful SOB Heinze. Then again, if they did sign Barry, it would surely consign them to another mediocre season.
 

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He wipes front to back
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i think o neill protesteth too much ! i think he is trying to point out barry may be available and touting him to see if any other offers come in . i dont think he wants him to go but i think he knows villa will struggle to keep him so he is making all the noises to keep fans onside . i always remember kevin keegan fronting fans when he sold andy cole , knowing he had shearer in the bag . i think o neill will use barry departure as a purse loosener with randy lerner and if it happened i fully expect that he would bring three good players to villa . canny manager o neill
 

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Most prob he will move just like Carrick moved from Spurs to us...I just hope its for a much higher fee than 10m...I also wish Rafa doesn't get his man like how he did not get heinze lol...I am surprised there are no speculation of Heinze to Poo fc this summer...
 

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Barry's move to pool seems inevitable. This is just Martin O'neill letting Benitez know that his captain won't come cheap.
 

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I hope they get Barry, but have to pay more for him.

Imo, he is highly over-rated. He is a decent player, nothing more, and is certainly not good enough to play for a top 4 side, and play in the CL.

Lets look forward to another mediocre season for the Poo if the sign him and other players similar.
 

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manutd004 said:
I hope they get Barry, but have to pay more for him.

Imo, he is highly over-rated. He is a decent player, nothing more, and is certainly not good enough to play for a top 4 side, and play in the CL.

Lets look forward to another mediocre season for the Poo if the sign him and other players similar.
we dont have good enough players in the cl
 

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marty davidson said:
we dont have good enough players in the cl
Well, its not we, because I'm not English, I'm Scottish :p

Just because England doesn't have enough players in the CL, doesn't mean hes good enough.
 

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Hah Hah:D Benitez has found a new manager to argue with. Now we can have tag team mind games. Ferguson/O'Neil Vs Wenger/Benitez.

I know who I'll be pulling for. :)
 
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