O'Neill nixes any Barry link to Chelsea

April 11, 2008

Aston Villa manager Martin O'Neill has dismissed speculation linking skipper Gareth Barry with a move to Chelsea.

Barry's standing in the game has increased significantly since becoming an England regular under Steve McClaren and now Fabio Capello.

The 27-year-old midfielder, who next month will celebrate the 10th anniversary of his Villa debut, has been the subject of rumours fuelled by reports that Chelsea's Frank Lampard could move abroad.

But O'Neill is downplaying the links with Avram Grant's side and points out Barry is contracted to Villa until the end of the 2009-10 campaign.

The former Celtic boss said: 'I don't know where these stories are coming from and Gareth has another two-and-a-bit years left on his contract.

'He has been linked with Chelsea for a couple of seasons now but no-one from Chelsea has ever contacted me about him and they have had a couple of managers [Grant and Jose Mourinho] and the same chief executive [Peter Kenyon] during that time.

'Gareth is a quality player and, after breaking into the England set-up, he has solidified his place in the squad, which has been great for his confidence.

'He was back to his very best last weekend [against Bolton] after a slump which all of us had been experiencing for a week or two before that.'

Barry, who signed a new four-year contract after O'Neill's arrival at Villa Park in the summer of 2006, made his debut in May 1998 and is close to completing 400 appearances for the midlands club.