Arsenal Transfer Rumours: Gareth Barry Should Only Be Last-Resort Target

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistJuly 6, 2013

LONDON, ENGLAND - APRIL 21: Gareth Barry of Manchester City marshalls Clint Dempsey of Tottenham Hotspur during the Barclays Premier League match between Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester City at White Hart Lane on April 21, 2013 in London, England. (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)
Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

Arsenal must make a major splash this summer if they plan to make a serious push toward the top of the Premier League table. So while Gareth Barry would bring some stability to the midfield, he's on the downside of his career and shouldn't be a main target.

Shaun Custis of The Sun reports Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has been tracking Barry even before the midfielder joined Manchester City. Now, he sees an opening to get him at a reduced price despite rival interest from Tottenham.

The Gunners are in the market for a holding midfielder and have been rebuffed by Bayer Leverkusen in their attempts to sign Germany star Lars Bender, 24.

It is thought Barry would cost around £3.5m and north London rivals Spurs are also showing interest as they look to replace Scott Parker.

If some type of bidding war begins to develop with Spurs and any other interested sides, Arsenal should exit talks immediately. Given his age and declining peak form, the only way Barry carries value is if he comes at a low cost.

Ultimately, the only reason for the Gunners to get heavily involved at all is if other deals fall through. At 32, Barry is no longer the type of player that should be topping Wenger's wish list. He simply doesn't have enough upside left to warrant making him a preferred addition.

Arsenal have previously been linked to Everton star Marouane Fellaini, as Sami Mokbel reported in the Daily Mail in June. The 25-year-old versatile midfielder would be a far better addition than Barry, mostly because he should just be entering his prime and is coming off another solid season with the Toffees.

Fellaini is an example of what Arsenal should focus on during the first part of the transfer window: players who have displayed top-notch form in one of Europe's top leagues. These types of players should be entering the peak of their careers and thus would have future resale value.

By the start of next month, the market should have played itself out. That's when a player like Barry would become a far more acceptable option if, for whatever reason, the Gunners haven't been able to land Fellaini or a similar player to bolster the midfield.

Make no mistake, Barry remained a reliable piece at Manchester City last season and could help Arsenal by providing veteran depth in the midfield. He could play an even bigger role in the short term if the club wants to move Mikel Arteta into more of an attacking role.

That said, he's no longer a game-changing player like Fellaini would be for the Gunners. He's just going to play sound football and provide some veteran leadership. That's the difference between a main target and somebody to add later in the window when other options have been exhausted.

All told, if Barry ended up being one of the summer's biggest signings by Arsenal, it would be a disappointment. They need more than he could provide in order to challenge the likes of Manchester United and Manchester City.

It's fine to consider him a target, but Wenger should explore other options before getting serious about a potential Barry signing.