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Page last updated at 10:54 GMT, Wednesday, 14 May 2008 11:54 UK

Villa boss opens talks with Barry

Gareth Barry
Persuading Gareth Barry to stay is Martin O'Neill's biggest challenge

Aston Villa boss Martin O'Neill and chairman Randy Lerner have opened talks with Gareth Barry in a bid to persuade the captain to stay at the club.

Liverpool have made a players-plus-cash offer for the 27-year-old but O'Neill is unwilling to let Barry leave.

O'Neill told the club website: "We've spoken to Gareth and our position remains the same - that everyone here strongly wishes that he will stay.

"He has two years on his contract to run and Liverpool have made an offer."

O'Neill claimed the Merseysiders had undervalued Barry after the Reds bid was revealed in reports.

Liverpool boss Rafael Benitez hit back last week by saying that he had discussed the idea of a transfer with O'Neill "20 days ago" and the row threatens to turn ugly.

606: DEBATE

O'Neill added: "Things are very much up in the air and the main aim for the chairman and myself is to try to keep him here.

"You can make people see out their contracts but in essence we would want a pretty amicable solution to all of this and we're still hopeful that things can be resolved in favour of Aston Villa."

The England midfielder, who has spent most of his career at Villa, has two years left on his current contract and the prospective lure of Champions League football may be too hard to resist.

But O'Neill said: "Gareth has played for England because he plays regularly for Aston Villa and his place is not in jeopardy. Frankly, England coach Fabio Capello does not need to see him playing in a Champions League game to be convinced."

O'Neill had criticised Benitez's approach for Barry but the Liverpool manager insisted he had done nothing wrong in making known his interest in the midfielder.

"I think the right approach when you want to sign a player is to talk to the manager," Benitez told BBC Radio Merseyside.

"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 OK. He will not have any problems with his supporters because he never said to me he wanted to sell Barry."


see also
O'Neill furious at Benitez claims
09 May 08 |  Aston Villa
Barry 'undervalued' by Liverpool
09 May 08 |  Aston Villa
Berger is shown door by O'Neill
06 May 08 |  Aston Villa
Villa reveal Liverpool Barry bid
02 May 08 |  Aston Villa
Villa players want Barry to stay
21 Apr 08 |  Aston Villa
Barry to assess future at Villa
19 Apr 08 |  Aston Villa
O'Neill 'desperate' to keep Barry
18 Apr 08 |  Aston Villa


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