Gareth Barry's Liverpool move still on despite Aston Villa claim
LIVERPOOL will try to revive the Gareth Barry transfer saga after Aston Villa tried to finally kill it dead last night.
The Anfield club were finally close to agreeing a deal for the player - with American owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett prepared to sanction a cash-only ÃÂ£18million transfer.
But Villa released a statement saying they had ended negotiations when their deadline of 5pm passed before the terms had been finalised.
However, as the predicted sales Liverpool have seemingly needed to make to finance the transfer have not materialised, that will only re-affirm manager Rafael Benitez's determination to land his top summer target.
He is now armed with the money to persuade Villa to relent in their stubborn refusal to allow their captain to leave and pursue his ambition of playing Champions League football.
The latest stumbling block is not thought to be about the valuation of the player, rather the way the deal is structured.
And Barry will be more desperate then ever to seal his switch to Anfield after his already agonising wait was so close to a conclusion yesterday.
Villa's statement said: "This evening, Aston Villa can announce that Gareth Barry will be staying with the club following the interest from Liverpool over recent months.
"During discussions in the past few days, a final deadline to conclude this episode was set that all parties were aware of and agreed to.
"This deadline has now passed and so Gareth will remain with Villa."
Villa are only more aware, however, that it's becoming increasingly difficult to guarantee that the England international's stay will go beyond the current transfer window.
Their manager Martin O'Neill has made no secret of his hostility to Liverpool's pursuit of the England midfielder and he has doggedly tried to persuade him to hang on for one more season.
After Barry received a warm reception from fans at Villa Park during his side's Intertoto Cup tie with Odense on Saturday, O'Neill said: "Everyone at Villa Park wants Gareth to stay. I would like him to stay and we could do an awful lot of things to try and ensure that.
"I will talk to Gareth first of all and we will do everything we can as he would be a terrible loss - very, very hard to replace.
"My own view is that Gareth should hang around another year - if we don't make the progress that he would want then he can move elsewhere."
But relations between the pair have deteriorated since Barry's expression of his desire to leave in an interview last month was punished by his manager banning him from the training ground.
After the capture of Robbie Keane from Tottenham Hotspur on Monday, Benitez was on the verge of forking out ÃÂ£38m in the space of three days - but he still intends to see that spending through.