Numerous reports today have confirmed what has basically been common knowledge over the past couple of weeks: Liverpool is interested in signing Aston Villa’s captain, Gareth Barry. Villa manager Martin O’Neill came out today criticizing Liverpool for publicizing this interest; a part exchange offer has been made for sure, with Peter Crouch, John Arne Riise, and/or even possibly Scott Carson as the likely candidates to go the other way. O’Neill, for his part, refused to confirm specifically what the offer entailed, but did obviously say that one was on the table.
My question? Why does Liverpool want Barry?
Make no mistake, this isn’t meant to slam or to disparage Barry whatsoever. He’s a terrific player and is Villa’s heart and soul. He is good friends with Liverpool’s captain, Steven Gerrard, from their days breaking into the England squad at a young age. He is very versatile, capable of playing left back and on the left side of midfield, although he is more comfortable right in the center of the park where he’s starred for Villa this year. He’s approaching his 400th career appearance for the club and has already qualified for a testimonial recognizing a decade spent at Villa Park. At 27 years old, Barry is in the prime of his career.
No, Gareth Barry has had an outstanding season and I can see why a big club would be interested in him.
Not Liverpool, though. Rafa Benitez’s team has a plethora of center midfielders in Gerrard, Javier Mascherano, Lucas, Xabi Alonso (who may leave in the summer), the young Damien Plessis, and even Yossi Benayoun, who is natural in the middle but has been used on the wing by Benitez this season.
Would Barry play at Liverpool? He’s a very, very good player, but this move seems like Steve Sidwell to Chelsea last summer all over again. If Alonso doesn’t go, Barry would probably be no better than the fourth choice in the center and be rotated constantly. He doesn’t need that in his prime; he needs to be starting every game and wearing Villa’s armband for years to come. Moving to Liverpool may hamstring his recently reignited England career under Fabio Capello, who has made it clear that if you don’t play regularly for your club, you won’t be playing for the Three Lions.
Liverpool should be interested in a player from Aston Villa, but Gareth Barry isn’t the one, and Barry shouldn’t want to go to Liverpool either.