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According to reports from the Daily Mail, West Bromwich Albion have made a move to sign veteran midfielder Gareth Barry from Everton.
The report claims that the Baggies are willing to offer a two-year contract to the England international and manager Tony Pulis is eager to finalise the deal at the earliest.
It is no secret that West Brom are in the market for a new central midfielder, after captain and seasoned campaigner Darren Fletcher left the Hawthorns earlier in the summer, to join up with fellow English club Stoke City. The loss of the former Manchester United man is a big one for the Baggies, as he was a pivotal figure at the club, with his experience and know-how, along with the composure and the calmness he brought to the middle of the park.
Pulis realises that the Scotland’s departure is going to leave a gaping hole in the side and has decided to bring Barry in as the replacement to fill that void. The Englishman is 36 years of age, but that wouldn’t be a major concern for Pulis, considering that he is accustomed to be reliant on aged and experienced players in his West Brom side.
Despite his age, Barry is going strong and made a total of 33 Premier League appearances for Everton last season and also signed a new one-year contract with the club to extend his stay until the summer of 2018. However, with the number of options that Everton manager Ronald Koeman has, it is unlikely to see Barry get game time there, which he wants regularly.
The Toffees will have the likes of Morgan Schneiderlin, Idrissa Gueye, Tom Davies, James McCarthy ahead of the 53-time capped England international in the ranks. With Muhamed Besic also returning to fitness and the signing of Wayne Rooney, who can also play in the midfield, the chances of Barry playing are minimal, despite the club taking part in the UEFA Europa League.
The 36-year old will not be a long-term signing for West Brom by any means, but the amount of experience and knowledge that he will bring to the table will be invaluable to the team, considering that he has made a total of 628 Premier League appearances for the likes of Aston Villa, Manchester City and now Everton. His tally of Premier League appearances is the second highest in the history of the competition, bettered only by former Manchester United star Ryan Giggs.
Physically strong and a good reader of the game, Barry can sit deep and break up play and has the range of distribution to put his team on the front-foot each time he gets on to the ball. He might not be able to offer the hustle and bustle in the middle of the park, but can be the calming influence that the club will miss, following Fletcher’s departure.
The sheer volume of experience that he will bring with him, while also helping the club address a key issue in the squad makes Barry an exceptional piece of transfer for West Brom, if they manage to pull it off.