Andy KayCheapo Gareth

How much are Liverpool prepared to pay to land the signature of Gareth Barry? If you listen to the reports coming out of Villa Park, the answer is not too much by all accounts. Liverpool have so far not come close enough to Villa’s valuation and indeed, their opening bid was so far off the pace that it was met by ridicule and fury by Villa officials. It’s since been upped to around £15 million, though that’s still less than Manchester United paid for Michael Carrick and Owen Hargreaves who Villa consider to be Barry’s equals, and in Carrick’s case, his England understudy. But Liverpool might have a problem. And it’s the expectation their manager Rafael Benitez has created in the transfer world by the price he’s put on some of his current players. He’s been quoted that £15 million, wouldn’t be unreasonable for Peter Crouch (though he’s likely to be off to Portsmouth for a bit less). That’s the same Peter Crouch that warmed the Liverpool bench for much of last season. And the same Peter Crouch who only seems to play for England when others aren’t fit. If he’s worth £15 million, then England and Villa regular Barry, using Benitez’s own logic, must be worth more.

Quiet Arsenal

Still on the transfer front, is anyone else surprised by the lack of activity at the Emirates Stadium? You’d have thought that manager Arsene Wenger would have wanted to build on their promising but largely developmental season of 2007 / 08. Instead, he’s been strangely inactive. True, Cardiff’s Aaron Ramsey has joined the club and they are still in talks with French international Samir Nasri but with Alaxander Hleb keen to depart for Barcelona, Mathieu Flamini already in situ with AC Milan and Jens Lehmann back in Germany, it’s really a case of 2 in, 3 out. Is that going to be enough to make the up the 4 points they finished behind Manchester United last season? Answers on a post card please.

New balls please

If you want to know how technology could be best employed in football, I hope you were watching the men’s singles final at Wimbledon. That’s right, stuffy, old fashioned, stuck in their ways Wimbledon. Not any more. Whenever Nadal or Federer challenged a line call, it was announced by the umpire, ‘Hawkeye’ ran the computer simulation and the answer was there on screen for all to see. And normally in around 10 seconds or less. Michel Platini says that won’t work in football and he’d rather use two additional assistant referees to decide if a ball has crossed the goal line. I’m thinking about dropping Platini an email on this subject, but that could be a waste of time as he’s probably still powering his organisation by candle light. Perhaps methane might be a better bet bearing in mind how much c**p comes out of his Uefa office.

Top Table Rick

Congratulations must go to Liverpool chief executive Rick Parry and his opposite number at Chelsea, Peter Kenyon, who’ve both been elected to the board of the newly formed European Club Association. The ECA has been established to replace the now defunct G14 and says it will tackle the games pressing issues over the next 2 years. Oh really? These great men will be discussing financial pressures on small, lower league clubs will they? Dodgy transfer deals, bungs, fixed games on the continent and inflated ticket prices? No, of course they wont. What they mean by ‘pressing issues’ are pressing to them. This football quango is sadly rather like its political equivalent, the G8 – the leaders of which enjoyed an 8 course dinner last night before discussing the world food crisis.

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