Gareth Barry is set to finally secure his £18m move from Aston Villa to Liverpool in the next few days after the two clubs re-opened negotiations yesterday. The impasse was broken following a letter submitted to Liverpool by Villa manager Martin O'Neill outlining how he wants the deal to be structured.
Villa have not wavered in their valuation of Barry but are prepared to accept Steve Finnan, in exchange, as part of the transfer. O'Neill has told Liverpool he values the full-back at just £1m so would still want £17m for Barry. He has also insisted that Liverpool adhere to the Premier League payment structure of half of the Barry money to be paid now and the rest within the next 12 months. Although Liverpool, who had a £15m offer for Barry rejected last week, are still quibbling over that and Finnan's value – they rate the 32-year-old at £2m despite the fact he is in the final year of his contract – it appears the deal is finally underway. None of the stipulations are insurmountable.
O'Neill, who has been preparing an £11m bid for Valencia right-back Miguel, does not regard the wrangle over Finnan as crucial and is keen to resolve Barry's future as quickly as possible so that his pre-season preparations are not affected any longer.
"Liverpool have come back to us and we have responded to their proposal with a letter," O'Neill said. "We're waiting to hear back from Liverpool after putting that proposal to them. I'm sure there will be some sort of resolution."
O'Neill is also more relaxed about the situation now that Steve Sidwell's £5m move from Chelsea has been agreed and wants to rule a line under the Barry saga. It has also become increasingly acrimonious with the 27-year-old Villa captain being fined two weeks wages, around £80,000, for giving an "unauthorised interview", and then banned from club premises. Sidwell will undergo a medical and should sign today before flying out to join up with the squad at their training camp in Switzerland. The 25-year-old is due to make his debut on Saturday in a friendly in Zurich.
At the same time Liverpool, having secured a potential £11m for Peter Crouch, who has agreed terms on a move to Portsmouth, feel they are in a position to push ahead with their bid for Barry. They are also close to completing a £3m deal for the Brazilian goalkeeper Diego Cavalieri who will arrive from Palmeiras, and be understudy to Pepe Reina, after completing his medical and obtaining a work permit, with Charles Itandje on the verge of being sold to Galatasaray for around £2m. Manager Rafael Benitez, who needs to generate funds to add to his transfer kitty of around £20m, is also keen to offload Scott Carson, who was on loan to Villa last season, but no club has come close to matching his £10m valuation.
Benitez spoke yesterday of his admiration for Valencia's David Villa and although the club are willing to sell, the striker appears to want to remain in Spain.