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By ESPN Staff

Row over Barry transfer rumbles on at Liverpool

Liverpool start a new Premier League campaign away to Sunderland this evening - but the behind-the-scenes squabbling will already look familiar to the club's fans.

The Reds endured a strained season in 2007/08, with the relationship between co-owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett coming under constant scrutiny as well as a seemingly strained partnership between manager Rafael Benitez and chief executive Rick Parry.

Now, with the summer-long transfer saga surrounding the club's public pursuit of Aston Villa midfielder Gareth Barry still unresolved at the start of the campaign, relations between the latter pair appear to be frosty once again.

Indeed, as the Spanish coach attempts to prepare his side for the visit to the Stadium of Light he will be confronted by newspaper reports that he was close to resigning his post over the Barry deal.

Yesterday Benitez surprisingly turned the spotlight on Parry and the club's owner - he specifically only used the singular - to mastermind a way out of the saga that has rumbled on all summer.

Benitez said: 'I will try to be very clear over the (Barry) situation. Everyone has been talking and it seems that the blame is put on me.

'I get blamed for everything, for global warming to high petrol prices.

'But in this case I want to be very clear. Since I talked to Martin O'Neill about the situation in April, I have not talked to anyone at Aston Villa.

'All the talks have been between our chief executive Rick Parry, the owner and the chief executive of Aston Villa. And those talks have all been pretty good.

'So if anyone wants to talk about Barry in the future they must talk with the owner, Rick Parry or the chief executive of Aston Villa. And as I have said, those talks I understand have been good.

'I was not involved in the talks about Barry, I was not involved in the talks about (Xabi) Alonso and Arsenal. If you want to talk about these players you must talk to the chief executive of our club who was handling the discussions.

'If you want to talk about players, then you talk to Rick Parry. If you want to talk about football, then you talk with me.''

Parry made it clear last weekend that the club were not happy with the £18million price tag for Barry - who is now ineligible for the group stages of the Champions League - his age or length of contract.

And the fact that Benitez has now specifically linked Alonso with a possible move to Arsenal underlines that he would have been happy to sell the Spain international to the Gunners for the right price.

On the field, meanwhile, Benitez is looking forward to seeing his £40million strike pairing of Fernando Torres and new boy Robbie Keane in league action.

Keane has so far failed to score in four pre-season friendlies and Wednesday's Champions League near-disaster away to Standard Liege, when he was taken off in the second half.

But Benitez will send out the pair this evening for the Premier League clash at Sunderland.

Benitez said: 'Keane has been training really well, really hard, but he will need time to get used to his team-mates and Torres.

'But I have no problems with him. He can play up front with Torres or in behind, it will depend on the game.

'He has quality, game intelligence, and I believe I will enjoy watching him play for Liverpool.'

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