Nigel Reo-Coker believes Aston Villa's ability to keep Gareth Barry has "set a marker" in the battle to break into the Barclays Premier League top four.
Martin O'Neill resisted four bids from Liverpool for the 27-year-old and would not move from his �18million valuation of the midfielder, and Reo-Coker believes other clubs will have taken note of Villa's stance and made them realise they were serious about making major strides forward.
The former West Ham player said: "Keeping Gareth sets a marker and I think other clubs will notice that. We're not here to make up the numbers. We want to push onto into that top four."
He added: "A lot of players have been away for the best part of two weeks because of the World Cup qualifiers and Under-21 games - but everyone has been so pleased about Gareth staying.
"He is one of our top players. A fantastic player, a great asset to the club, and a real professional. I always rated Gareth highly, even before I came to the club last summer, and it's great to hang on to him.
"It makes us a stronger squad - and a more serious contender to break into the top four. It is very important that we managed to hang on to him.
"It's up to the individual to interpret the situation what has happened but it shows what we are trying to do, plain and simple. It shows how serious we are.
"So many clubs in the Premier League are considered feeder clubs but you can see how serious and ambitious this club is."
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