With Liverpool likely to make a January bid – would they be wise to cash in?

Football
FanCast columnist
Stephen Darwin looks at the
latest chapter in the Gareth Barry transfer saga and wonders if Aston Villa would be wise to cash in.

A new chapter in the Gareth Barry transfer novel
that dominated the back pages over the summer appears to have come to light
today. The latest twist indicates that Aston Villa would be prepared to allow
the England international to leave on a free-transfer in the summer of 2010 in
an attempt to retain his services for one more season at least. Given the
undoubted potential suitors for Barry's signature, would the Midlands club not
be better served in attracting a potentially large transfer fee in January
rather than losing out on a bumper pay day in the future? Indeed could O'Neill
use his powers of persuasion to convince Barry that his long-term future would
be best served at Villa Park – or is this slice of optimism simply out of the
equation?

As we are all too well aware, Barry's dream move to an Arsenal or Liverpool
this summer, in pursuit of CL football, didn't materialise and just as Villa
fans were starting to feel quietly confident about a potentially fruitful
future with the 27-year-old onboard, further uncertainty seems to have risen as
to what the immediate future holds and as to whether Randy Lerner will be
prepared to see the player run out his contract.

Martin
O'Neill said in the Sun:

"I don't think Mr Lerner is overly
concerned about losing the money if it means retaining the services of a really
top-class player for that extra year"
Whilst adding

"I have absolutely no idea what might
happen in January."

The news becomes an even harder pill to swallow for Villa fans as Barry had
previously admitted his own belief that the club were closing the gap on the
big-four when he told the Mirror: "If
we're beating teams like Arsenal on the road it shows we are getting closer.
When you go for so long without beating a top-four team, especially on the
road, it can get you down.

"But we've
got the result and hopefully a few more can come with it. There is a belief
there.

"You can't
judge it on one performance but we can certainly gain confidence and if we're
beating teams like this on the road, the gap's getting a bit closer."

So what now for Gareth Barry and Aston Villa fans
understandably fed up with the constant rumours? Keeping Barry for that extra
year may just be what is needed to propel O'Neill's side into Europe and
potentially into one of the precious top four Champions League places. Although
so much has been made of player power this season, would it be morally fair to
keep the England man against his will? Fortunately Villa have a character in
Barry that would seemingly give his heart and soul for the cause and I doubt
motivation would be too much of a problem even though his long-term future may
already have been mapped out in his own head.

On the flip side, Barry would command a transfer fee reaching well in the
region of £15 million in January, a fee that would significantly drop in the
summer and a year down the line further still. £15 million would certainly
fetch a decent replacement although would Villa fans be happy to take the money
and run or would you rather see your former skipper don the claret shirt for
another season yet? Furthermore do you still hold out any hope that he may
extend his stay beyond 2010?

Why do Aston Villa continually fail to get the respect they so rightly deserve?