Will Rafa take the bait and wrap up £12m summer deal?

Football
FanCast reporter Freddie Myers mulls
over the latest rumours and rumblings.

If
there was one attribute that I would never have said was missing from Martin O'Neill's
makeup then it would be that he was a quitter, however the weeks go by and
statements come out it seems that the Irishman is ever so slowly conceding that
Villa's hopes this season for a Champions League finished are slowly coming to
an end as Arsenal begin to turn the screw. It is certainly not the kind of
things that the supporters want to here and arguably the players.

Maybe
O'Neill is simply being realistic, looking to defuse possible disappointment
but are Villa likely to have a better opportunity than to break the current
stranglehold on the top four? I mean if they beat Tottenham tomorrow then they
will move back into the Champions League spots with 9 games to go, hardly the
time for negativity, however little but that has come out of Villa Park since
the recent rut set in.

I
find it astounding really and O'Neill topped it of today when he came out and
claimed that Gareth Barry is still interested in a move to Liverpool and after
10yrs service at the club is unlikely to stand in his way, should the club fail
to make the Champions League. This was hardly the same bullish Irishman who
stood firm against Liverpool's pursuit of him last summer and all he has
inadvertently done is dangle a £12m carrot in front of Rafa to bite, should the
inevitable actually happen.

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I
don't quite know what Villa fans are making of this at the moment, but I would
be upset if my teams manager was being as gracious and not looking to fight
tooth and nail to keep Barry at the football club; I mean how can they afford
to lose a player of his quality and then expect to be a better team for it next
season? Surely you let him run down his contract and have one last crack at the
Champions League next season, I mean didn't O'Neill suggest that Lerner would
be happy to take that financial hit is it was in the best interest of the
actual team?

It
is clear then that the goalposts have moved and should Villa miss out on the
top four then the club will be prepared to cash in. Of course it remains to be
seen if Barry is still a part of Rafa's long term plans at Anfield and he will
be getting him for a damn sight cheaper than the £18m that they were being
quoted last summer and being that he will be in the last year of his contract
Villa will do well to get in the region of £10-12m for his services.

Are Villa fans worried at
their manager's apparent negativity and the willingness to let Barry go? Are
Liverpool fans still keen to see the player in the Red at Anfield?