Saturday 21 October 2017

No regrets from Barry after spurning chance to join Anfield ranks

Chris Bascombe

Should the travelling Liverpool supporters at Goodison Park abuse Everton's Gareth Barry today, it will sound familiar.

When Rafael Benitez tried to sign Barry at Liverpool in 2008, the Kop voiced their disapproval by telling their manager to stick the midfielder where the sun does not shine. A year later, Barry snubbed Liverpool for Manchester City.

He ended up with the league title, while Liverpool ended up with Alberto Aquilani replacing Xabi Alonso. Barry could be forgiven for suggesting he had the last laugh.

"I was very, very close to joining Liverpool," Barry said. "I made it clear to Martin O'Neill I wanted to leave, but ultimately they did not stump up the transfer fee Aston Villa wanted.

"The big thing with the Liverpool fans was that it looked like one of their favourites was leaving, in Alonso, and they looked at me as the reason for it. That's fans I suppose. The fans heard he was leaving, I was coming in and put two and two together. I remember watching a pre-season friendly and they made it obvious they weren't keen on me coming to replace him.

"He was a fantastic player and I can understand it. That's just down to Alonso being a fantastic player. He made comments about me which maybe didn't help in terms of the Liverpool fans. But there was nothing I could have done about it.

"With the conversations I had with Benitez, he said Alonso wouldn't be leaving. He was talking of me coming in and maybe not always playing in central midfield, but maybe playing slightly left and even left-back. That was when in my mind I was thinking maybe not to join Liverpool anyway.

"They didn't have the funds when it came down to it. Villa wanted £18m and Liverpool bid something like £16m and they signed Robbie Keane instead."

When Liverpool revived their interest a year later – this time Barry would have been a direct replacement for Alonso – he declined the offer.

"After the debacle of the one before, I chose City over Liverpool when they came back in again," he said. "That was a big gamble at the time. City weren't in the Champions League and Liverpool were, but the things being told to me were the things that happened, like signing some of the best players in the world, and I wanted to be part of it.

MASSIVE

"Things do happen for a reason and I ended up with a Premier League and FA Cup, which was massive. It's just the way things happen."

Barry has been outstanding so far for Roberto Martinez, but despite the limitations of the England squad, he believes his international career is over.

"Right now I don't think it's going to happen," said Barry. "Sometimes you're just not in the manager's thoughts. He seems to be going with the younger players, so I'd say it's not going to happen. It's a massive long shot now. I'll have to score 30 goals from now I think."

The first priority for Barry is to maintain his form and secure a permanent move at the end of his season's loan. He is out of contract this summer.

"I'd be lying if I said I hadn't thought about what happens after the end of this season because it is something you have to worry about," he said. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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