Gareth Barry has admitted he was put off a move to Liverpool by Rafa Benitez’s strange plan on how to use him.
The former Aston Villa captain was the subject of transfer interest from Liverpool – then managed by Benitez – in the summers of 2008 and 2009.
Benitez has been so keen to sign Barry in fact, that he was willing to offload Reds legend Xabi Alonso to raise the necessary funds.
After failing the first summer, Liverpool were back again the following year, but Barry admits he garnered doubts over a switch to Anfield during telephone conversations with Benitez, allowing Man City to swoop in instead.
Barry told Birmingham Live’s Claret & Blue podcast : “Martin O’Neill said, ‘Give me a year and you can leave next year for a certain fee.’ I knew in my heart of hearts that I was going to leave that summer [’09].
“It hurt me that Liverpool couldn’t stump up the money the season before. A couple of phone calls with Rafa where he was talking about me playing the odd game left midfield, the odd game at left-back.
“In my head I started to think, ‘I’m not giving up the Villa captaincy, playing regularly, to go and do that.’ I don’t care if it’s Champions League, I don’t want to be a bit part of nothing.”
As things turned out, Alonso moved on to Real Madrid that same summer, but the emergence of Man City as a major player in the Premier League following their takeover gave them the edge over Liverpool in the talks with Barry.
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It’s been an extremely interesting start to the season for Jurgen Klopp’s men.
They got their title defence off to a shaky start as they edged out a seven-goal thriller against Leeds, before going on to conceded seven in a hammering by Aston Villa.
Virgil van Dijk’s season was ended by injury in the 2-2 draw at Everton, leaving the title favourites looking far less secure at the back – especially with Alisson’s injury worries too.
But there’s no slowing down in what is going to be a busy campaign – with Klopp ensuring his men continue at full pace as they bid for more title glory.
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“Then, from nowhere, Man City got in touch,” Barry continued. “They started speaking about certain players they were on about signing, which even then was hard to believe.
“They painted the picture that this was the fast train and if you don’t get on it you’re going to regret it.
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“Something appealed to me more about Man City than Liverpool at the time. Liverpool had won the Champions League not so long ago and Man City hadn’t won a trophy for many years, but I went with that route.”
Barry eventually spent five years at City, winning the FA Cup in 2011 and the Premier League the following season.
He retired from football in August after subsequent spells with Everton and West Brom, ending his career with an all-time Premier League record of 653 appearances, as well as 53 caps for England.