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.

people And here is why...
Arts and Entertainment
Amazon has added a cautionary warning to Tom and Jerry cartoons on its streaming service
voicesBy the man who has
Arsene Wenger tried to sign Eden Hazard
footballAfter 18 years with Arsenal, here are 18 things he has still never done as the Gunners' manager
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
The new Windows 10 Start Menu
Arts and Entertainment
Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson star in The Twilight Saga but will not be starring in the new Facebook mini-movies
tvKristen Stewart and Stephenie Meyer will choose female directrs
Arts and Entertainment
Hilary North's 'How My Life Has Changed', 2001
books(and not a Buzzfeed article in sight)
William Hague
people... when he called Hague the county's greatest
More than 90 years of car history are coming to an end with the abolition of the paper car-tax disc
newsThis and other facts you never knew about the paper circle - completely obsolete today
Arts and Entertainment
There has been a boom in ticket sales for female comics, according to an industry survey
comedyFirst national survey reveals Britain’s comedic tastes
Arts and Entertainment
Twerking girls: Miley Cyrus's video for 'Wrecking Ball'
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
Ed Sheeran performs at his Amazon Front Row event on Tuesday 30 September
musicHe spotted PM at private gig
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

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

Day In a Page

Ebola outbreak: The children orphaned by the virus – then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection

The children orphaned by Ebola...

... then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection
Pride: Are censors pandering to homophobia?

Are censors pandering to homophobia?

US film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence
The magic of roundabouts

Lords of the rings

Just who are the Roundabout Appreciation Society?
Why do we like making lists?

Notes to self: Why do we like making lists?

Well it was good enough for Ancient Egyptians and Picasso...
Hong Kong protests: A good time to open a new restaurant?

A good time to open a new restaurant in Hong Kong?

As pro-democracy demonstrators hold firm, chef Rowley Leigh, who's in the city to open a new restaurant, says you couldn't hope to meet a nicer bunch
Paris Fashion Week: Karl Lagerfeld leads a feminist riot on 'Boulevard Chanel'

Paris Fashion Week

Lagerfeld leads a feminist riot on 'Boulevard Chanel'
Bruce Chatwin's Wales: One of the finest one-day walks in Britain

Simon Calder discovers Bruce Chatwin's Wales

One of the finest one-day walks you could hope for - in Britain
10 best children's nightwear

10 best children's nightwear

Make sure the kids stay cosy on cooler autumn nights in this selection of pjs, onesies and nighties
Manchester City vs Roma: Five things we learnt from City’s draw at the Etihad

Manchester City vs Roma

Five things we learnt from City’s Champions League draw at the Etihad
Martin Hardy: Mike Ashley must act now and end the Alan Pardew reign

Trouble on the Tyne

Ashley must act now and end Pardew's reign at Newcastle, says Martin Hardy
Isis is an hour from Baghdad, the Iraq army has little chance against it, and air strikes won't help

Isis an hour away from Baghdad -

and with no sign of Iraq army being able to make a successful counter-attack
Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

The exhibition nods to rich and potentially brilliant ideas, but steps back
Last chance to see: Half the world’s animals have disappeared over the last 40 years

Last chance to see...

The Earth’s animal wildlife population has halved in 40 years
So here's why teenagers are always grumpy - and it's not what you think

Truth behind teens' grumpiness

Early school hours mess with their biological clocks
Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?

Hacked photos: the third wave

Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?