Gareth Barry: Ambitious or Greedy?

This time last year Gareth Barry was courting a move to Liverpool in pursuit of his dream of playing Champions League football, but this eventually fell through. Still harbouring the same ambitions this time around, he has now elected that the best place to achieve this is with tenth placed Manchester City after a £12 million move on Tuesday.

Having not even qualified for the newly revamped Europa League, City are a long way short of a Champions League side, unless like Robinho he thought he was signing for the other Manchester side.

The incentive of a truck load of cash and potential further investment to lift City into Champions League contention has to be considered as possible reasons for his move, but to leave a side who were fighting for that elusive fourth place finish earlier in the season, for a club that struggled into mid-table obscurity and were a full twenty-two points behind the top four in the final standings, is a slap in the face for the ambition of Martin O’Neill’s side.

Clearly Barry has either moved to Eastlands with a long term plan for Champions League glory, or like many tabloids have speculated he has simply chased the money, as he is rumoured to have pocketed a five year deal worth upwards of £25 million.

Capped 29 times by England so far, the international midfielder took no time at all in expressing his desire to end his 12 year stay at Villa Park upon his arrival at Eastlands, as he told the BBC,

“It didn’t take much persuasion from Mark Hughes, they are heading in the direction I want to go,”

“There is great potential here, and I’m sure there will be more additions to the squad this summer,”

As a Villa player trophies have not been forthcoming, as his only winners medal came from the Intertoto Cup Final win over FC Basle in 2001, so a move away from Villa Park in search of greater success is understandable, but whether he will achieve this with City is perhaps questionable.

Villa chairman Randy Lerner had been confident earlier in the week that Barry would extend his stay at the club after he was offered a new contract, but he spurned this and in an open letter to Villa fans printed in the Birmingham Mail, he cited his reasons.

“I have a massive fear of going stale and falling into a comfort zone. After changing my mind lots of times I came to the decision that the time was right for me and the club to part.”

It is difficult to make a clear conclusion from the reasons he gives, but it appears that he just wanted to get away from club that held him captive from a move to Liverpool last season and one that has less ambition than a club that had a distinctly average season last time around, despite heavy investment at the start of the season from owners the Abu Dhabi Group.

His reasons are further confused by his assessment of Villa’s current situation in his statement, which begs the question why leave?

“I feel the club is in the best position it has been in during my time here, we have very good young players, a fantastic chairman and one of the best managers in the game.”

Another factor to consider in his move is one of flattery. For a player of a 28 with only a year left on his contract to receive a bid of £12 million is a reflection of how highly he is regarded by Mark Hughes and this has not gone unnoticed by Barry himself.

“They were the club prepared to meet the valuation, which for a 28-year-old with a year left on his contract, I think shows how much they wanted me”

Barry’s arrival at Eastlands bring s to an end a 12 year association with Aston Villa, who plucked him from relative obscurity as a Brighton youth player and handed him his debut as a 17 year old in 1997. In and out of the England squad from a young age, Barry has finally achieved a level of international stability that he showed such promise of reaching as a youngster. He now appears to feel it is time his club football reflected his international status, but only time and possibly heavy investment will tell if a move to the blue half of Manchester will reap rewards for him and justify his move.

Tags: Gareth Barry, Manchester City

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