The Gareth Barry saga has taken yet another twist after Aston Villa boss Martin O'Neill revealed Arsenal have expressed an interest in the wantaway midfielder.
Rumours have arisen that the Gunners are preparing to swoop on the soon to be ex-Villa skipper, whose hopes of moving to Liverpool appear to be fading fast given recent developments.
The Reds have failed to meet Villa's ₤18million asking price and are unlikely to go any higher than ₤15million, especially now that Juventus have dropped their interest in Xabi Alonso.
It has been speculated that Arsene Wenger, who is on the lookout for a top-notch central midfielder, may use the lull in negotiations to snap up Barry from under Benitez's nose.
And O'Neill confirmed those suspicions last night, revealing that the Gunners have in fact made an enquiry into the England international's availability .
Speaking to The Sun, the Ulsterman said: â€œMyself and Steve Walford both know Arsene Wenger's assistant Pat Rice.
â€œHe phoned Steve to ask how the Liverpool thing had gone and said that they might show an interest.
â€œAt the end of the conversation Arsenal said â€˜that's fine' and that they'll let us know. Thatis exactly what happened.â€