Benitez attacks Barry and City for feeding cash frenzy

Liverpool manager 'doubts passion' of the one who got away as he unveils Johnson

Rafael Benitez yesterday launched a stinging attack on the England midfielder Gareth Barry for choosing Manchester City over Liverpool "just for money". Benitez, who has failed twice in his attempts to sign Barry, also said Javier Mascherano and Xabi Alonso were not for sale despite interest in them from Spain.

The Liverpool manager was in forthright mood on the occasion of Glen Johnson's introduction as the club's first major signing of the summer. Signed for £18.5m from Portsmouth, the England right-back is understood to have been fast-tracked into the highest earners at the club on a deal that is worth a staggering £120,000-a-week.

The vast salary offered to Johnson reflects Benitez's determination – some might say desperation – to ensure at least one high-profile signing ahead of City this summer after they signed Barry. Benitez tried and failed to sign Barry last summer, a transfer saga that turned into a squabble with Martin O'Neill who held firm at Aston Villa.

Barry's move to City came out of the blue last month and it meant that he also broke into the £100,000-a-week category. "Maybe it's just me but in this market now, money is not the main thing," Benitez said. "Everyone at this level earns big money. You have to enjoy [it], make decisions, do your best in the right way.

"If it's just for money sometimes you will make mistakes, like Gareth Barry. I won't say too much but it [his move to City] was clearly for money – 100 per cent. It's not a bad thing to miss out on him. The most important thing is to know the passion of the player.

"We did go back again for Barry, but as I said it is all about money, money, money. It is as simple as that. It was difficult, some clubs are offering big money. But he [Johnson] wanted to come here, that was the difference. City have signed a lot of good players, but that is no guarantee they will win anything. It will be interesting to see what happens next season."

Benitez was also adamant that Mascherano and Alonso would not be leaving despite intense interest in the pair from Barcelona and Real Madrid. Benitez said that, like Alvaro Arbeloa, also a target for Madrid, he expected the two midfielders to sign new contracts with the club – not least because they owed Liverpool a debt of loyalty.

"Both players are under contract and we are really pleased [with that]," he said. "We signed Alonso when nobody knew him outside Spain and renewed his contract two years ago, so he was happy, and with Mascherano you know the story about West Ham. Both players owe a lot to Liverpool football club and the fans like them, so we want to keep working with them. They owe the team their loyalty. They both know that.

"When you are in a top side, you can do it [tell players they are staying], so you have to decide about the way to do things but I don't have any problem. We have to be strong enough and if we have to be, we will be."

In the meantime, Steven Gerrard is expected to sign a two-year extension to his current deal, keeping him at the club until 2013. His wages are currently £100,000-a-week flat without bonuses and he was due to renegotiate a deal. However, Johnson's arrival on such attractive terms meant that the Liverpool captain and star player was due an improvement in his salary.

Benitez has said that he did not expect a "big-money signing" beyond the acquisition of Johnson, rather that he was more focused on keeping together a squad that only finished four points behind champions Manchester United last season. Benitez listed Gerrard among his strikers although beyond the captain, Fernando Torres and Dirk Kuyt, Liverpool have precious little cover. They have even recalled Andrei Voronin from his loan spell at Hertha Berlin.

On Johnson, Benitez said: "He was always thinking about Liverpool, so for us to sign a player who wants to come, an England international, with experience of a being at a big club before, is really good, because of his desire to be successful here.

"We knew we had to pay good money because he had good offers. We don't normally spend big money on defenders but he is a really important player, an offensive defender, an England player. We needed quality, someone with something more to stop [Liverpool getting too many] draws, another player to go forward and be a threat from the back."

Benitez said Fabio Aurelio's knee injury, sustained while playing with his son on holiday, will require only one month to heal. As for Johnson, he said he believed he could fulfil his potential at a "Big Four" club after struggling at Chelsea six years ago.

Johnson said: "It was working out until Jose Mourinho... wanted to bring in his own players. That's when it started to go downhill."

* Promoted Real Zaragoza have agreed to sign winger Jermaine Pennant from Liverpool on a three-year contract, the La Liga club said on their official website yesterday. The 26-year-old, who will move as a free agent, played part of last season on loan at Portsmouth.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Sport
Ojo Onaolapo celebrates winning the bronze medal
commonwealth games
Arts and Entertainment
Rock band Led Zeppelin in the early 1970s
musicLed Zeppelin to release alternative Stairway To Heaven after 43 years
Arts and Entertainment
Tracey Emin's 'My Bed' is returning to the Tate more than 15 years after it first caused shockwaves at the gallery
artTracey Emin's bed returns to the Tate after record sale
Environment
Neil Young performing at Hyde Park, London, earlier this month
environment
News
i100
News
Prince Harry is clearing enjoying the Commonwealth Games judging by this photo
people(a real one this time)
Sport
Lionel Messi looks on at the end of the final
football
Extras
indybest
News
Richard Norris in GQ
mediaGQ features photo shoot with man who underwent full face transplant
News
Gardai wait for the naked man, who had gone for a skinny dip in Belfast Lough
newsTwo skinny dippers threatened with inclusion on sex offenders’ register as naturists criminalised
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

The children were playing in the street with toy guns. The air strikes were tragically real

The air strikes were tragically real

The children were playing in the street with toy guns
Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – The British, as others see us

Britain as others see us

Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite
Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them altogether

Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them

Jonathon Porritt sounds the alarm
How did our legends really begin?

How did our legends really begin?

Applying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
Watch out: Lambrusco is back on the menu

Lambrusco is back on the menu

Naff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz
A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

A new Russian revolution

Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

Standing my ground

If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
The man who dared to go on holiday

The man who dared to go on holiday

New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell
Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
The Guest List 2014: Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks

The Guest List 2014

Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

Jokes on Hollywood

With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on