Can we afford to turn down a £10m bid from a Liverpool or Arsenal?

Football FanCast columnist Greg Symonds feels that Villa are taking a calculated
risk with Gareth Barry and wouldn't understand the logic in keeping him, should
a sizeable January offer was to come in.

How many fans came away
from today's game with a feeling of déjà vu? It was typical Villa – we take
4pts off Manchester United and Arsenal and suddenly we get held at home to
Fulham; who haven't won and away game all season. We never make life easy; but
would Villa fans know it to be any other way?

The topic of conversation
many would expect would be on this very same subject and our lack of depth
upfront, subsequent failure to kill off teams' blah, blah, blah, but in all
honesty our discussion was dominated by the subject of Gareth Barry and the
dilemma that the club faces with regards to his future – do we take a chance on
him signing a new deal in the summer, or do we sell him now so not to lose him
for next to nothing.

It is all well and good
to hear Barry come out and pledge his future to the club until the summer, but
at the same time why wouldn't he. As soon as we hit June 1st the
player will hold all the cards and be able to do pretty much what he wants with
regards to his future. The ridiculous Webster ruling now gives the power to player,
who is able to buy out their contract in order to fast track any proposed move
they may wish. Barry will be eligible to do so, which kind of leaves Villa in a
catch.22 about what to do.

The words coming out of
O'Neill's mouth is that this is all very positive and it will give us an
opportunity to show the player of our aspirations and how we are looking to
compete in the future. It's fair to say that we are moving in the right
direction and the Irishman is doing an unbelievable job, but can you honestly
say hand on heart that we will finish in the top four this season, even with
Barry in the team? This game today showed the flaws within our squad, our total
inconsistency and how we are realistically two seasons away from being a top
four club. These things don't happen overnight and that is why I feel a sense
of realism is needed, especially with regards to Barry.

My take on the subject is
that I would love Barry to sign a four year deal tomorrow and put the whole
thing to bed once and for all. Unfortunately the bottom line is that the player
wanted to leave in the summer to join a Liverpool or Arsenal and it was only
Villa's persistence that prevented such a move. In an ideal world we can all
hope that in the past few months that the player has found his love of the
football club again and will want to stay, but I don't believe that to be the
case. If it was, then we wouldn't get such statements committing himself until
the end of the season and he will be banging on Randy Lerner's door to get a
new contract – it will never happen and unfortunately we have to accept that
the January window is the last chance we have to get something for the player –
come Feb 1st, Barry is in charge of his own destiny.

Martin O'Neill came out
today and suggested that Lerner would not be tempted to cash-in so to prevent
the aforementioned scenario. This is all well and good for O'Neill to say, but
I cannot understand why we as a football club can turn down a bid in the region
of £10m should it be forthcoming by the likes of an Arsenal or Liverpool,
especially given the likelihood of a summer buyout. I mean if Gareth Barry was
to stay and I really felt he would get us in the Champions League then I
wouldn't hesitate to keep him just to guarantee it, but there is no way, in my
opinion, that we are good enough, or have enough strength in depth to achieve
it this season – should we really be taking that risk, especially when we can
put that money in strengthening elsewhere?