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By ESPN Staff

Barry must decide future, demands Villa chief

Aston Villa owner Randy Lerner's right hand man General Charles Krulak insists the club will not stand in the way of skipper Gareth Barry if he wants to quit the midlands club.

Barry, who has two years to run of his current contract, has been strongly linked with summer moves to Liverpool and Chelsea.

Villa manager Martin O'Neill wants to retain the services of the England midfielder and persuade him to sign a new lucrative long-term contract.

And Barry wants to see what O'Neill's transfer plans are this summer before making any decision on his future.

But Villa director Krulak feels it is only fair to allow Barry to leave if that is his wish after 10 years sterling service with Villa in which he has clocked up nearly 400 appearances.

Krulak, speaking ahead of today's clash at Everton, said: 'Obviously, we are keen to keep our captain - and we will do all in our power to keep him. But at the same time, he plays a huge part in this equation.

'At the end of the day, he needs to want to stay. The very worst thing we could do would be to try and hold onto a player who wants to leave.

'I hope that we can show him that his future is, in fact, at Aston Villa. We will work hard to do just that.'

O'Neill pulled off a masterstroke when he persuaded the unsettled Barry to sign a new deal when he replaced David O'Leary as manager in the summer of 2006.

But Barry has now developed into one of the leading midfielders in the country and become an England regular.

A move to either Stamford Bridge or Anfield would allow him to significantly increase his current £42,000 a week deal with Villa.