Whisper it quietly, but Gareth Barry could be an Aston Villa player when the Premier League season starts. The midfielder has had a summer that he won’t forget in a hurry, with his decision to hand in a transfer request turning into a nightmare, especially with Liverpool scraping the coffers to try and afford the player.
The official Villa website now reports that the England international could be handed a chance to strut his stuff in the claret and blue of the Villans this Saturday, with the team engaged in Intertoto action against Odense. Will this be the first appearance of many for the former captain of the club, or merely a cameo role before he jumps ship? His manager certainly doesn’t know.
O’Neill told www.avfc.co.uk: “I think that in terms of fitness the game on Tuesday will have brought him on. So if he’s mentally tuned in and he wants to go and play, why not?
“Why shouldn’t he be in contention for the game? He’s a quality player and that’s what we’re looking for.”
The Villa boss added: “Deep down we would all love him to stay at the football club. We haven’t heard back from Liverpool for some time and we’re not exactly sure where we all stand.
“When people say people are in limbo, I don’t think that applies to anybody more than ourselves. We don’t know whether to move forward or not with it. It’s a long running saga and I wouldn’t mind it ending one way or another.
“My preference – and hopefully I’m speaking for a lot of Villa fans, if not all of them – is that we would like Gareth to stay at the football club. That would be great because it will be hard to place him.
“But we’re not sure where Liverpool stand now. It was never mentioned before about them needing to sell some players before they bought – that was never in the system at all. But seemingly it must be part of it.
“The point is that this has been long running and we’re looking to see it end one way or another.”
Barry must be pretty fed up of the situation, especially after the likes of Crouch and Carson left Anfield for much less than their original price tags suggested. With Alonso sticking around, should he accept that staying at Villa is a strong likelihood, and buckle down in the Midlands once again?