Liverpool Wants Gareth Barry. Why?

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.

So, who do I think Liverpool should go after?

None other than my man Ashley Young, who is probably my favorite player in the league. He can play on both wings, though he’s mostly played on the left this season before being given a free role recently by O’Neill. He is a great set-piece taker, arguably better than Gerrard. He has great pace and technical ability and at 22, is still developing. He’s got seven goals and 17 assists this season and was nominated for the PFA Young Player of the Year award.

Think about it, it makes sense. Where are Liverpool’s holes? At the full-back position, of course, but really on the wings. Sure, Ryan Babel is fine on the left, but he’s more of a striker. Jermaine Pennant is rubbish, Dirk Kuyt has very little natural ability even though he’s a workhorse, Benayoun isn’t dynamic enough to beat anyone on the flank and cause much trouble, and Harry Kewell will be leaving.

Everything runs through Alonso, Mascherano, and Gerrard for Liverpool, and then up through the center to Torres. They’re an extremely one-dimensional team and signing Barry would just reinforce that notion. Young, on the other hand, would give them a real threat on the left side and would allow Babel to move to the right, which would be helpful for a guy who’s predominantly right-footed anyway. I guarantee you that would be no faster combination of flank players in the Premiership than Babel and Young, and they would be absolutely deadly out wide. Young would walk straight into that starting XI and provide something for Liverpool that they haven’t had in recent seasons — a true winger.

With that said, I just don’t see any way that O’Neill would let Ashley Young leave right now after the season he’s had. I think his performance this year has driven his price up in the neighborhood of 20 million pounds, and that’s no joke. Liverpool probably doesn’t have that type of money to spend, although he is worth it, and Villa would be reluctant to let him walk for any less than that. Barry would be a cheaper alternative, but I don’t see why Liverpool believe they need another center midfielder.

In the end, I believe Barry will remain at Villa and I can’t see Young going anywhere, although both of them certainly have the ability to play for a “Big Four” club. Villa is a club on the rise and, mark my words, WILL be challenging for fourth place in the Premiership next season if Barry does stay. If you’re a Liverpool fan, you have to hope your club goes after some wide players, both in the back and on the wing, and you certainly don’t need another guy clogging up the middle.

13 thoughts on “Liverpool Wants Gareth Barry. Why?”

  1. Barry is slow, overrated and looked lost when it really mattered – versus Croatia. Hope Rafa wastes his funds on him, won’t add much value.

  2. Have to disagree with you completely TT. Sure, he isn’t the fastest guy in the world, but when exactly did pace become a necessary attribute for a central midfielder?

    Overrated? Hardly; he’s extremely underrated.

    Looked lost when it really mattered? OK, fair point, but so did Steven Gerrard and every other England player except for Peter Crouch in that game.

  3. I disagree. I think that Barry would be a valuable addition to their squad. He can play in the left or in the middle and fill in at both left and center. He can also play with Mascherano as a holding player against tougher squads. I think he would be a good buy for them.

    I don’t see Young going anywhere because the cost will be prohibitive. It would have to be someone desperate like Spurs or Newcastle willing to piss away £20m on him.

  4. barry is being pursued because mascherano and lucas will be gone for most of august and september due to the olympics and world cup qualifiers

  5. If you believe reports Xabi Alonso is on his way back to Spain. What liverpool need as i have said countless times is some quality all round. And it looks like Michael is coming around to that. Their full backs don’t attack (aurelio can but is injury prone) and the modern game requires that especially when you have to press the issue in certain games and can’t rely on the counter attack. I agree they need a winger. Sure Ashley Young has had a brilliant season but we know how costly English talent can be. Liverpool’s financial situation is unclear to most fans and the media (and not making the UCL final the potential money there is also gone) but many believe their will be limited funds, so i doubt very much they would meet the price tag that could be put in Young. There are a few arguably cheaper options such as Downing and Bentley although again clubs could demand inflated prices.

    There were conversations around Rafinha which evidently they can’t afford as he is indeed one of the brightest full backs in the world and several clubs are interested. There was talk that the signing they had already made was Degen of Dortmund. Impressive at the world cup but according to Bundesliga fans i have communicated with has gone backwards and has been injured.

  6. Finding left footed players is tough in this day and age. For some reason the US produces lots of left footed players but no right footed ones which is how a stiff like Clint Dempsey by default made the US National Team. (He is right footed and can play out wide). That’s part of our (the US) problem. We have few natural right footers even on our back line, and have been forced to play left footed players on the right, and watch Mexico dominate us. But I digress…….

    England on the other hand has few left footed mid fielders. Good move by the Reds and it’s nice to see them buying ENGLISH talent instead of wasting money on SPANISH scrubs that Rafa will then whine about claiming he had no transfer kitty- guess what Rafa you spent so much more on transfers than Chelsea has and they beat you. HA HA HA!

  7. Michael Hall, I see your point about Mascherano and Lucas, but you don’t pursue a guy who’s going to cost somewhere between 7-10 million pounds just to play for a month and a half while the two regulars are gone. You can get a much, much cheaper player to fill in during that time or even use guys like Plessis to fill in.

    Ivan, Downing and Bentley are fine, but neither provides the pace and dynamic ability that Liverpool could really use on the wing.

  8. Fair enough Michael but i gotta slightly disagree, all three i think have similar skill sets. Young has obviously had a phenomenal season which i understand, but i believe that Bentley and Downing have been consistent to an extent over the season after having promising seasons last time as well. What do you believe is Young’s strengths? i see that as his pace, dribbling, delivery from out wide and from set pieces. I believe that Downing (doesn’t cut inside as much as the other two tend to) and Bentley strengths are also in those areas. I think Bentley and Downing play for probably what are deemed “unfashionable” clubs which is why i recommend them as perhaps cheaper options. I wouldn’t necessary say one is alot better than the other but i do think Bentley is slightly ahead of Young (although i agree its debatable), with Downing a bit behind. As i said I think football skills wise their strengths are in the same areas.

    Statistics from this season.

    Bentley: 35 app, 6, 10 team has scored 46 goals .35
    Downing:36,7 , 4 team has scored 33 goals
    Young: 35 ,7 ,17 – team has scored 69 goals

    Personally i think you have to looked at the team contribution as well.

  9. They’re different types of players in two different classes; Ballack is one of the world’s best attacking midfielders when on form, Barry is probably England’s second or third best center midfielder, maybe.

  10. I agree that Barry shouldn’t leave Aston Villa;Viila are doing well with him on their side, and Liverpool has quite a few central midfielders already,I think Rafa would not need another one, it’s wasting Barry’s chances. I do not want to see Barry becoming another Steve Sidwell, who might be transfering out of Chelsea too. Why waste money buying players they don’t need? Barry is quality and good player,but he’s better needed and suited at Villa.

  11. I don’t think Barry should leave Aston Villa, it is true that Liverpool already has a truck load of central midfielders;why spend money on players they don’t need? Barry is a good player but he’s more needed and well-suited at Aston Villa, where he can play the attacking CM and go forward to create; if he goes to Liverpool he might be asked to play holding midfield while Gerrard plays forward; Barry would prefer attacking i should say. A club should not just pounce on players it thinks is good, look at the needs.

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