Barry staying put at Villa

Aston Villa captain Gareth Barry is to stay with the Midlands club after repeated approaches from Premier League rivals Liverpool.

Barry appeared to have his heart set on a move to Anfield, where he would have joined up with fellow England midfielder Steven Gerrard. But Villa said Wednesday the 27-year-old would be staying with the Birmingham side after Liverpool failed to reach a deadline they'd imposed to meet their 18 million pounds (36 million USD) for the player.

"This evening, Aston Villa can announce that Gareth Barry will be staying with the club following the interest from Liverpool over recent months," the club said in a statement.  "During discussions in the past few days, a final deadline to conclude this episode was set that all parties were aware of and agreed to. This deadline has now passed and so Gareth will remain with Villa."

Barry's despire to play UEFA Champions League football appeared to be a key reason for his desire to leave after a decade at Villa Park.

But now manager Martin O'Neill will hope he can achieve that goal with Villa, who finished sixth, two places outside the Champions League qualifying spots on offer to English clubs, in the Premier League last season.

O'Neill was angry with Anfield counterpart Rafael Benitez for making details of Liverpool's interest in Barry public and made it clear recently that the uncertainty over his player's position could not continue indefinitely, effectively challenging the Reds to 'put up or shut up'.

But while Benitez was unable to meet Villa's valuation, he did sign striker Robbie Keane from Tottenham this week for a fee of more than 20 million pounds (40 million dollars), a clear indication of his priorities.

It had seemed as if Barry had done permanent damage to his relationship with O'Neill when, in an interview with the News of the World in June, he said the Villa boss was more interested in commentating on EURO 2008 for the BBC than retaining his club captain.

O'Neill promptly banned Barry from pre-season training and the player was booed by Villa fans when he played in a friendly against Walsall last week.

But he got a better reception when he came on as a substitute in Saturday's Intertoto Cup tie with Odense at Villa Park.