West Brom manager Slaven Bilic has confirmed that the Baggies are exploring the possibility of re-signing Gareth Barry on a free – just weeks after he was released – but there is a better free agent option on the market.
Barry, now 38 years of age, was released by West Brom at the end of last season and it looked as though the midfielder may be coming to the end of his footballing career. He had knee surgery at the end of last season.
Now in rehab after that injury, Bilic said the Baggies will re-sign Barry when he returns to full fitness. But the Croatian manager needs to cast his net wider than a player West Brom offloaded at the end of last season.
That net should widen only slightly, though. That is because neighbours Aston Villa opted to release Birkir Bjarnason at the end of last season, following the Premier League side’s signings of Douglas Luiz and Marvelous Nakamba.
It had pushed the 32-year-old down the pecking order, and now Villa made the decision on deadline day to mutually terminate the former FC Basel midfielder’s contract at the club – two and a half years after joining.
Bjarnason clocked up 54 appearances in that time for Villa as he looked to help the side return to the Premier League. In just his second full season at the club, the Iceland international helped them do just that.
Able to play in numerous positions at left-back, left-wing and in the middle of the park, Bjarnason is much like the kind of player that Barry is – only six years his junior and more than fit enough to hit the ground running.
Left-footed, hard-working and an excellent passer of the ball, Bjarnason also chips in with the odd goal as does Barry. West Brom have got to consider Bjarnason following his Villa release, as he is just a younger Barry.