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Liverpool kick off summer transfer season with Barry bid

SoccerNews in English Premier League 2 May 2008


Liverpool have kicked off what promises to be a busy summer transfer period by tabling a ten-million-pound (20-million-dollar) bid for Aston Villa's England midfielder Gareth Barry.

Reds boss Rafael Benitez has identified Barry, 27, as the key to strengthening his midfield and the Villa captain is reportedly keen on a move to a Champions League club.

Chelsea are also believed to be interested but Barry may be swayed by the chance of linking up at club level with Steven Gerrard, with whom he has forged a good understanding in the England midfield.

Barry has two years left on his contract so Villa boss Martin O'Neill could opt to hang on to him, although that would involve accepting a substantial decline in the player's transfer value over the remainder of his current deal.

The player's attitude to a move may be affected by planned talks with O'Neill, who is expected to outline his transfer plans for next season.

Arsenal meanwhile are facing the prospect of losing two of their midfield regulars with the future of both Mathieu Flamini and Alexander Hleb up in the air.

Flamini, 24, is out of contract at the end of the season and is believed to be considering an offer from Juventus as well as a significantly improved deal from Arsenal.

Gunners boss Arsene Wenger, who had expected his compatriot to make a decision by the end of April, said on Friday that he expected an answer imminently.

“The latest is that we are at the end of April but it is still not sorted out,” Wenger said. “Certainly we should get an answer today (Friday) or tomorrow.”

Asked what he thought Flamini's decision would be, Wenger said: “I'm always positive because I believe the link he has with the club will be stronger than all the other different attractions that he can have.

“I know that if it's down to football then he will stay here. If it's down to financial resources he might not stay here.

“He is free to choose a different direction, everybody is free out of contract and you have to respect that.”

Hleb is a target for Internazionale but Wenger said he has not yet been contacted by the Italian giants or any other club about the Belarus international.


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