Aug 16, 2017
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What will Gareth Barry’s arrival from Everton mean for Tony Pulis’ West Brom?

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West Bromwich Albion have confirmed the signing of Everton’s veteran midfielder Gareth Barry for an undisclosed fee, which is believe to be in the region of £1 million.

The 36-year-old has had a long and prosperous career competing in the top flight of English football and will be heading into his 22nd season with half-an-eye on the all-time Premier League appearance record.

Ryan Giggs currently holds the honour having played 632 times for Manchester United in the 1990s and early 2000s but Barry would need to make just five appearances in the coming year to overcome that figure.

Barry made his first team debut for Aston Villa in 1998 and made in excess of 400 appearances for the Midlands club during a ten-year spell before joining the Qatari-backed revolution at Manchester City.

The midfielder helped City to secure the Premier League title and FA Cup during his four-year stay at the Etihad Stadium before he became surplus to requirements and joined Everton in 2013 where he cemented his place as a crucial cog in Roberto Martinez’s team.

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However, the appointment of Ronald Koeman as manager at Goodison Park and the £100 million investment in the first team squad over the summer has left Barry stranded considerably down the pecking order and in search of a move to secure regular time on the pitch and to elongate his career.

He becomes West Brom’s fourth signing of the summer following the arrivals of Jay Rodriguez, Zhang Yuning and Ahmed Hegazi as Tony Pulis looks to add more quality and depth to his current first team squad.

The experienced midfielder, who can also play as a fullback, will be a direct replacement for former Albion captain Darren Fletcher, who stunned The Baggies by agreeing to join Midland rivals Stoke City on a free transfer at the start of the summer.

What will his signing mean for West Brom?

Since his arrival at West Bromwich Albion, in January 2015, Tony Pulis has done a remarkable job at The Hawthorns. The Welshman has converted The Baggies from relegation contenders into a team that were able to make a genuine push for a Europa League spot last season, without having an abundance of money to spend.

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The departure of Darren Fletcher at the start of the summer came as something of a surprise and left Pulis in need of an experienced central midfielder to work alongside the energetic Jake Livermore.

Gareth Barry is certainly a solid, if not an entirely enthralling or spectacular, signing and there is little doubt that he is a more than adequate replacement for West Brom’s former captain.

However, the 36-year-old will offer little more than a short-term fix to Pulis’ central midfield dilemma and this is certainly reflected in the one-year deal that Barry has signed – The Baggies will need to find a long-term solution in the coming twelve months.

Barry’s resounding qualities lie in the simplicity and consistency of his play. Age now means that the central midfielder cannot fulfil a box-to-box role or cover every blade of grass, as was the case earlier in his career, but his passing ability will remain a tireless asset.

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The 36-year-old will be deployed alongside Livermore and will likely be give the responsibility of sitting in front of the back four, screening the central defenders whilst looking to pick up the ball in deep position to instigate attacking moves. Barry may not produce anything spectacular, but his presence, experience and consistency will certainly benefit the current West Brom squad.

The current Albion squad undoubtedly requires investment and reinforcement, yet the signing of Barry could be a shrewd piece of business if he can maintain his form and fitness. The reported £1 million fee is little more than loose change in an era of astronomical financial wealth and helps to plug an obvious gap in the first team picture – for now at least.

Gareth Barry will be hoping that a fresh start at The Hawthorns will help him to elongate his already prestigious career and who would put it past him to surpass Ryan Giggs all-time Premier League appearance record before the end of the campaign?

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Transfers · West Bromwich Albion
Martyn Cooke

Martyn is currently a PTA and Research Assistant in the Department of Exercise Science at the Manchester Metropolitan University (MMU). In addition to his teaching role he is also undertaking a PhD in Sports History that is exploring the origins and development of football in Staffordshire. Prior to working at MMU, Martyn spent a decade operating in the sport and leisure industry in a variety of roles including as a Sports Development Officers, PE Teacher, Football Coach and Operation Manager.

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