Premier League

Friedel hopes for Barry stay

Villa keeper keen for influential midfielder to remain at club

Barry: Friedel praise

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Aston Villa goalkeeper Brad Friedel is hopeful the club can retain the services of midfielder Gareth Barry.

England international Barry was strongly linked with a move to Liverpool last summer, but a transfer failed to materialise.

It has, however, been suggested that Barry could again seek an exit at the end of the season if Villa fail to secure a UEFA Champions League berth.

Experienced shot-stopper Friedel signed at Villa Park from Blackburn Rovers last year and has been hugely impressed by Barry's quality.

The American said: "I would understand why Aston Villa would want to keep Gareth and sign him for multiple years and I understand why anyone in the world would want his services.

"I hope Aston Villa can keep him for the longevity of his career if that is what he wants and the club wants.

No risk

"Gareth would be the first name on any team sheet at any football club in the world.

"He is one of those players you always know is good when you play against them but, until you train with him day after day, you don't realise how good he is."

Friedel added: "With Gareth, there's no element of risk attached to him wherever he played his football.

"He's an exceptional player. It's everything on the field and off it, the way he sees football in general.

Natural ability

"There aren't many people who have that natural ability to run a football match from the centre of midfield, but he is one of them.

"Every top team has one. Liverpool have maybe two or three, United have one, Arsenal have Cesc Fabregas and we're blessed with two in Gareth and Stiliyan Petrov.

"You understand why these players are in international sides and why most clubs around the world will be taking notice of them.

"They make the game look easy. Gareth does things in training that afterwards you say 'That looks easy' and there are a lot of players who can make it look very, very difficult."