According to reports coming from the Daily Mail, West Brom manager Tony Pulis is lining up a potential swoop for veteran Everton midfielder Gareth Barry this summer window.
It is understood that the Baggies are on the lookout for a replacement for Darren Fletcher, who left for Premier League rivals Stoke City in early June, and they have tipped Barry to be the man to fit in.
Pulis is expected to offer the 36-year-old midfielder, who has spent the past four seasons at Goodison Park following his move from Manchester City, a two-year contract at the Hawthorns.
Would Barry be the right man at the Hawthorns?
There isn’t a lot that Gareth Barry hasn’t experienced during his 19-year career to date, not really looking back since breaking into the Aston Villa first-team as a very young and exciting 17-year-old.
A move to Manchester City – which saw him win an FA Cup trophy and a Premier League title, as well as give him Champions League experience – was followed by a permanent switch to Merseyside in 2014 and he has since gone on to make over 100 appearances for Everton across all competitions.
Despite being 36 years of age, it is not too hard to see why Pulis is looking at signing Barry, with his composure in the midfield and his awareness of the game likely to benefit most top-flight teams.
What he lacks in raw pace and acceleration he more than makes up for with his natural sense of positioning, closing down the passing angles for his opponents and anticipating their next move well.
After all of his years playing at the top level the ex-England midfielder has developed a grit and determination about his play too – last season alone he managed to win 60% of his aerial midfield battles, making four defensive actions per match – and it is this sense of battle that Pulis desires.
The fact that he was named Everton’s Player of the Season for last year also shows that he still has what it takes to impose himself at the top level, despite his mature years, and there is little doubt that he could slot in nicely in the Midlands.
Although he may not be the most spectacular player on the field – much like Fletcher – his worldly experience and calming presence in the dressing room could be a huge boost at the Hawthorns, because if West Brom are wanting an outside top-seven challenge they’ll need to keep level-headed.
And with Everton boasting the likes of Idrissa Gueye, Tom Davies and Morgan Schneiderlin in the midfield, as well as new additions Davy Klaassen and Wayne Rooney, first-team opportunities could be low if he stays.