Last night Aston Villa were in Iceland, playing FH Hafnarfjarða, the current Landsbankadeild leaders. They lined-up with a strong team, including, surprisingly, influential captain and Liverpool target Gareth Barry. In playing in the game, Barry may have manoeuvred his way out of an £18m move to Anfield.
By playing in the game, Barry is now cup-tied for European games until February, meaning if Liverpool were to buy him, he would not be eligible for Champions League games until the knockout stages. Since this is Liverpool’s main aim, as a title tilt always appears second to cups, it would be a key part of the deal for Rafa Benitez.
Apparently it was not the decision of Martin O’Neill to play Barry (although he had to select him, obviously) and Barry requested to play. Barry apparently requested to play, something the manager was keen to stress:
I had a talk with him beforehand. He was in the right frame of mind and wanted to play and there was nothing that would have stopped him which was very pleasing.
He wanted to play and he knew the consequences so the decision was very much his.
With Barry knowing that the deal has dragged on for far too long and that playing would put a nail in the coffin of the saga, has the Villa captain shown great loyalty to the club in sacrificing his dream move? Granted, by saying he wanted to move to Anfield in the first place displaces this argument, but I believe he has shown great maturity and commitment to Villa by playing last night, also getting a goal.
It may be that this is not the full-blown loyalty that we see in one-club players like Ryan Giggs, Raul or Paolo Maldini, but Barry has said he wanted a move to Liverpool, it hasn’t worked out and he has done the job he is getting paid for. Why should Villa be forced to leave him out because of Liverpool’s interest? Why should he not help Villa, a team he has been at for over 10 years, in the UEFA Cup? I doubt we would see the same from Christiano Ronaldo or Emmanuel Adebayor.
It is great that in this modern game lacking so much, that we can see a little loyalty and people doing the job they’re paid to do.