Skipper Barry 'undervalued' by Reds, says O'Neill

May 8, 2008

Martin O'Neill insists Liverpool have undervalued Aston Villa skipper Gareth Barry at £10million as he reiterated his determination to try to keep the England midfielder.

O'Neill and Barry are due to have further talks after Sunday's final Barclays Premier League clash with West Ham about the future of the former Brighton trainee.

A players-plus-cash offer of around £10million for Barry was made to Villa by the Reds last week but not taken seriously by O'Neill.

And O'Neill is determined Villa can be on the same level as Rafael Benitez's outfit in the not too distant future despite Kevin Keegan's fears about the difficulty of breaking into the `big four'.

'Liverpool talked about a £10million bid, which was some cash and some unnamed players,' O'Neill said.

'That is very presumptuous of them, that the players they might be talking about, are the ones you would want - that is why I dismissed the whole thing.

'The whole story seems to have grown arms and legs and seems to be saying `whatever Liverpool are asking for, they will get' but I don't see that as being the case.

'Is Barry undervalued at £10million? Absolutely, without question. This lad is playing for England.

'That is not to say we want to give a certain valuation and then, if Liverpool come up with it, we will do business. That is not what we want to do at all.

'I've spoken to Gareth but we will have further discussions when the season is over. He felt himself he got affected by all the speculation and that it affected his game a bit.

'That is something for Sunday's game that we wouldn't want to happen. We will speak again next week.'

When asked if he thought Barry could play Champions League football at Villa Park, O'Neill admitted it was 'a big ask' - as Newcastle boss Kevin Keegan had pointed out in respect of his own club.

O'Neill continued: 'If Keegan thinks it is going to be difficult at Newcastle, the third highest club in terms of crowds, then I suppose it might be a realistic viewpoint.

'My own view is I don't think it is an impossibility. That is my viewpoint but it does take a lot of good players at the club to wrestle the initiative away from those big four.

'Maybe Kevin Keegan in the last day or so has given a realistic viewpoint of the league at the moment - but it is not something you stop aspiring to.

'The whole idea in the not too distant future is that Villa are up alongside Liverpool.

'We are going to do what it takes to keep Gareth at the club. The viewpoint is we are attempting to get up there with those teams in the top four.'