If Martin O’Neill is serious about making Aston Villa a force to be reckoned with in English football, he could do with keeping some of his prize assets. These include Gareth Barry, who is currently keeping Frank Lampard out of the England squad and having a very good season for the Villans once again.
It’s been rumoured that Chelsea are keen on adding a 57th midfielder to their squad (they sometimes feel a bit short for Carling Cup matches and reserve games), although The Times report that the Villa manager has dismissed such talk regarding one of his star players.
“I don’t know where these stories are coming from” O’Neill said. “Gareth has another two-and-a-bit years left on his contract. He has been linked with Chelsea for a couple of seasons now but no-one from Chelsea has ever contacted me about him and they have had a couple of managers [Grant and Jose Mourinho] and the same chief executive [Peter Kenyon] during that time.
“Gareth is a quality player and, after breaking into the England set-up, he has solidified his place in the squad, which has been great for his confidence. “
The Midlands club have fallen short of achieving their target of European football this season – who do they need in order to gain a place in the top six next season? It’s clear more firepower is required, despite Carew and Agbonlahor having fairly steady seasons, while increased competition for places must also be on O’Neill’s mind.