Barry switch imminent

Gareth Barry’s long awaited £18million move to Anfield from Aston Villa could be completed in the next 24 hours, allowing the England international midfielder to make his Reds debut at Anfield on Friday night.

The transfer saga of 2008 looked to be over last week when Aston Villa closed the doors on Liverpool, who failed to meet a deadline to come to an agreement over payment terms.

But after a meeting between Barry and his representatives, manager Martin O’Neil and chairman Randy Lerner, it looks like the Villa skipper’s switch is only a formality.

It is not yet understood whether right-back Steve Finnan is part of the deal.

Barry has not travelled with the Villa squad to Spain this week for their pre-season preparations and is thought to be finalizing the switch to Merseyside.

The Reds face Lazio at home on Friday evening in their last pre-season friendly, before facing Belgium’s Standard Liege away in the Champions League Qualifier next Wednesday and Benitez hopes Barry will be part of the action.

On Tuesday it was announced that Yossi Benayoun has switched his squad number to 15, leaving the number 11 shirt free for Barry’s arrival.