Rafael Benitez has shed light on why he tried to sign Gareth Barry during his time as Liverpool manager.
Barry spent four seasons on the blue side of Merseyside with Everton before joining West Brom two years ago, but his career path could have been very different if things had gone to plan for Benitez.
The Spanish tactician, currently in charge of Dalian Yifang in China after leaving Newcastle this summer, has revealed that he tried to sign Barry from Aston Villa in 2008 – with many believing he had been identified as a replacement for Xabi Alonso, who would be sold to Real Madrid one year later – but the England midfielder chose Manchester City the following season.
“The Barry story is something that still people don’t understand,” Benitez answered on a Q&A with The Athletic.
“Barry had been playing for years at his maximum level and, at this time, he could play in three positions: midfielder, winger and left-back.
“We had Mascherano, Lucas Leiva and Gerrard with experience, and selling Alonso was a way to make some money and balance the team.
“Barry wasn’t to replace Alonso, he was to give us something different that we didn’t have at this time.”
Benitez is not the only high-profile manager to have admitted to tracking Barry in his Aston Villa days, with Arsene Wenger revealing two years ago that he tried to take him to Arsenal.
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