Everton FC: Why Gareth Barry Will Be the Toffees' X-Factor
The England international was imperious during his first outing in royal blue, making several crucial interventions—including one remarkable goal-saving clearance. He was aggressive in the challenge, tidy in possession and increased the Toffees' overall tempo going forward.
Despite the clamour and attention received by his fellow deadline-day signings, it seems Barry is set to play a significant role for the Toffees this season.
The very fact Everton were permitted to sign a player so prominent at Manchester City seemed strange, as did the lack of interest from other top clubs—considering the frailties the likes of Manchester United and Arsenal possess in his position.
Evidently, his slide down City's midfield pecking order is not something understood by his peers, either.
The City lads on the last international break were saying that they can’t believe that they haven’t kept him and he doesn’t play for them.
That says enough about his worth for any team he plays in. Everyone rates him who he plays with and he has come in and shown what a great asset he is going to be for us.
We’ve seen straight away what he can give to the team. I’m sure Gaz will tell you that he has not played as much as he would have liked and he has already produced a performance like that. If he plays like that most weeks, he is going to add to the team.
Barry may not be the most fashionable addition to a Premier League teamsheet, but there's little doubting his class and pedigree instantly bolsters Everton's midfield.
The reason he can become so effective at the Toffees is because of his duel ability on and off the ball. Not only is he a gritty, intrusive presence without it, but he's also a slick, one-touch passer when in possession.
In that respect, he can influence the Toffees in a way no other midfielder at the club can do. While harassing opposing midfielders and providing a safety blanket for his defenders, Barry will also quicken Everton's passing with fewer touches and a precise pass—both areas that have needed improvement after Roberto Martinez's first few games.
Martinez has already eluded to the unique proficiency of Barry's game, as he told Everton's official website after Saturday's win:
I’ve been a big admirer of Gareth over the years. He senses danger like nobody, gives you composure and is full of good decisions. He establishes good relationships with players all over the park.
He is very unique because his type of midfielder doesn’t normally exist in English football. You get a lot of foreign players coming in and playing that role really well but Gareth Barry is something else.
He is going to be an incredible influence on James McCarthy and Ross Barkley. He is going to provide perfect guidance for the future.
The partnership he created with Leon Osman was truly magnificent. He is a player that already feels part of the furniture at Everton.
Away from his stylistic tendencies, his experience will also provide a huge boost to the Toffees' dressing room and will raise their on-field mentality. Despite Phil Neville's rapidly declining input on the field, his presence and leadership are qualities sure to be missed this season, but they are attributes Barry can help replace.
If fit (and having missed three), how many PL games will Barry start?
He comes from a winning dressing room, has recent memories of top European action and is the perfect role model for younger players to follow. What's not to like?
Barry's assets complement each of Everton's midfielders, making him an ideal match for any of Leon Osman, Darron Gibson or James McCarthy. He can be a defensive foil to their creative nous, while nullifying opposing attackers, or join in as a metronomic passer, releasing others in space.
Given his versatility in several midfield roles and his suitability to partner every other option in the middle, it's hard to see him losing his place over the coming months.
Signed on loan from City, but with a contract set to expire next June, securing Barry's services already seems like a top priority for next summer.
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