Redknapp looks for new leader in Barry

Manager must convince his chairman to spend big on experienced Villa midfielder
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The Independent Football

Harry Redknapp wants to sign Gareth Barry this summer to give his Tottenham Hotspur team the experience and leadership he believes they have lacked this season. The interest in Barry is long-standing, as is the interest in Roque Santa Cruz and Glen Johnson, and Spurs hope that Liverpool's uncertain finances mean that they will be able to tempt Barry away from Aston Villa where he has one year left on his contract.

At 28 years old, Barry does not fit the profile of the kind of player whom the Spurs chairman Daniel Levy usually signs – Levy normally prefers to buy younger, less-expensive players. However, Redknapp is convinced that the club needs older, more experienced players to set a more professional mood around the training ground and Barry fits the bill perfectly. Another sticking point for the Spurs hierarchy is the wages the player is likely to command.

Villa are understood to be offering Barry around £70,000-a-week to sign a new contract at the club. In contrast, Spurs' highest-earners command around £45,000-a-week. Redknapp has become increasingly frustrated this season at the lack of a natural leader at Spurs, especially since Ledley King disgraced himself with his drunken antics on a night out earlier this month. The Spurs manager faces competition for Barry's signature from Liverpool and Manchester City.

Redknapp must also convince Levy that Santa Cruz, 28 in August, is also a good investment despite his age and a patchy record with injuries. The Paraguayan has had an operation on his knee and has not played for Blackburn since 4 March which will also give Levy cause for concern if he is asked to pay upwards of £10m for the striker. Johnson, who played under Redknapp at Portsmouth, is also regarded as a viable target despite Liverpool's interest.

Barry is now represented by his former Villa youth team-mate Michael Standing after ditching his former agent Alex Black who was part of the botched attempt to join Liverpool last summer. Standing, who joined Villa as a teenage trainee with Barry from Brighton, is not a Fifa-licensed agent. A former player with Bradford, Walsall and Bournemouth among others, it is Black who has been entrusted with negotiating what will be the most important contract of Barry's career. He quit playing for Lewes FC after the club were relegated from the Blue Square Premier this month.

There is a major clear-out in the offing at Spurs this summer with David Bentley, Darren Bent, Alan Hutton, Roman Pavlyuchenko, Tom Huddlestone and Pascal Chimbonda all available. Players out on loan such as Giovani Dos Santos, Chris Gunter and Kevin Boateng amongst others will also be invited to find new clubs. Redknapp hopes that will generate enough funds for him to sign experienced players.

Any talks over King's proposed new contract with Spurs – he has one year left on his existing deal – will now be put on hold after his embarrassing drunken performance in Soho in the early hours of 10 May following the draw with Everton. The Spurs captain was alleged to have racially abused a a nightclub doorman and his lack of care toward his chronic knee problem has caused great alarm at the club.


The low estimate, in millions of pounds, that Spurs could be asked to pay for Barry.