Aston Villa last night told captain Gareth Barry that his dream move to Liverpool is dead and will not be revived.
Villa took the unusual step of announcing that Barry would definitely be staying at the club, after Liverpool failed to meet their £18m asking price by an agreed deadline.
“This evening, Aston Villa can announce that Gareth Barry will be staying with the club following the interest from Liverpool over recent months,” said a Villa 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.”
Reports earlier yesterday claimed that agreement on a fee had finally been reached between the two clubs, after months of wrangling.
Villa have always demanded £18m for Barry, and were said to have accepted an offer of £17.5m plus the Republic of Ireland full-back Steve Finnan in part-exchange.
But just hours later the club appeared to categorically rule out any prospect of a deal.
Villa manager Martin O’Neill has been reluctant to sell the midfielder since Liverpool’s interest emerged, and despite being publicly criticised by the player.
Just 24 hours before Villa’s announcement Liverpool manager Rafa Benitez had confirmed he still hoped to sign 27-year-old Barry.
Whether the Spaniard can resurrect the deal now looks doubtful, although Liverpool will draw encouragement from the fact that Villa had previously been willing to sell, and that a deal was very close.
New £20m striker Robbie Keane missed a glorious chance to mark his debut with a goal last night as Liverpool drew 0-0 with Villarreal.