Merson: Barry key to Liverpool league glory

Arsenal legend Paul Merson says Liverpool can finally win their first Premier League title next season, if they land Aston Villa midfielder Gareth Barry.

Rafael Benitez's men ran Manchester United close, but not close enough in 2008/09, with Sir Alex Ferguson's side equalling the Reds' league title haul of 18 last weekend after securing the single point needed against Arsenal.

However, the Anfield outfit have the ability to go one better next year - and deny United the chance to usurp their record of league crowns - with the acquisition of Aston Villa's midfield general, according to Merson.

The Merseysiders appeared set to seal a deal for the England international last summer, only for the move to fall through with both clubs disagreeing over the transfer fee.

And although Liverpool's loss proved to be Xabi Alonso's gain - with the Spanish central midfielder in inspired form throughout 2008/09 - Benitez is again being linked a move for Barry.

The 28-year-old is expected to renew his desire to leave Villa Park this summer, after Martin O'Neill's side saw a top-four finish evaporate following a disappointing end to the campaign.

“As for Liverpool, I expect them to be a right force next season. It's been a long time since they've been in a title race and it takes a lot of getting used to," Merson told Sky Sports.

“Last year a young Arsenal team capitulated when they had a chance of winning the league, but Liverpool have stayed there and they have progressed in the Champions League too. They've done great.

“If they can get players like Gareth Barry in over the summer they could possibly nick the title next year.”

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