Liverpool boss Rafael Benitez decided to wind journalists up last night after the Reds beat Lazio 1-0 in a friendly, by announcing the club were on the verge of signing a major target.
Of course, everyone knew he meant Gareth Barry, but he refused to name the Aston Villa midfielder.
Although Villa boss Martin O’Neill conceded last week that Barry might leave, it’s always been rumoured that a proposed fee of £18m was the sticking point.
“The situation is not a question of money,” Benitez told reporters.
“He is English and can play three different positions, but I am talking about someone who can play on the left…I am talking about one player, but I won’t say the name.”
This has to be Barry, 27, who can play central midfield, on the left and left-back.
It’s been touted that midfield maestro Xabi Alonso will have to make way for Barry, funding Benitez’s forays into the transfer market. But from what Benitez said last night, the EURO 2008 winner and firm fans favourite looks set to stay.
“We have a good player (Alonso) and we have another good player coming in soon,” gushed Benitez.
“We can improve the squad, so we will try to do that. We will bring in one more player if we can.
“I do not know when but clearly we have problems on the left, Kewell has gone, Aurelio is injured and Leto cannot get a work permit.
“Who comes in? It could be another left-sided player rather than a central midfielder.
“Maybe he can play in three different positions, that is a positive thing. I am talking about one player, but I won’t say the name.” (Source: BBC)
Ordinarily it’s a 5-nil victory that sends the manager delirious, not a dull encounter in a pre-season friendly. Gareth Barry as a creative, forward-thinking left-back or left-winger? Er, no, Rafa. What was in your pre-match paella?