Benitez: Barry absence behind Keane downfall

Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez has admitted that his side’s title chances last season were damaged by the Reds' failure to sign former Aston Villa midfielder Gareth Barry, and that his absence was the reason behind Tottenham Hotspur striker Robbie Keane's struggles on Merseyside.

Barry – who has since moved to Manchester City – was lined up to be an intricate part of the Liverpool attack alongside Keane.

However, the Republic of Ireland goal-getter failed to impress following his £20 million summer arrival from Tottenham and returned to White Hart Lane during the January transfer window for a cut-price £12 million.

“The plan was for Barry to play on the left and feed the ball to Robbie Keane, who would play up front with Fernando Torres,” Benitez said in The Times.

“The blueprint had to be scrapped. The collateral damage was Keane, who signed from Tottenham Hotspur before the Barry deal had been done.

“When we wanted to sign Barry, we were sure we were signing a good player with a very good mentality and the quality to play in the Premier League.

"The priority was Barry, then Keane."