Why Everton Must Keep Hold of Gareth Barry

Matt CheethamCorrespondent IFebruary 19, 2014

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 26: Gareth Barry of Everton in action during the Barclays Premier League match between Everton and Sunderland at Goodison Park on December 26, 2013 in Liverpool, England. (Photo by Paul Thomas/Getty Images)
Paul Thomas/Getty Images

Roberto Martinez opted to defer during January's transfer window, saving the bulk of his funds for the summer.

By then, Everton will have no first team striker on their books and will possibly look at one or two ball-playing centre-backs for improvement.

However, the Toffees should already have a No. 1 target for the next transfer market: that being a certain Gareth Barry.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 01: Gareth Barry (R) of Everton in action with Christian Benteke of Aston Villa during the Barclays Premier League match between Everton and Aston Villa at Goodison Park on February 1, 2014 in Liverpool, England. (Photo by Pa
Paul Thomas/Getty Images

The Manchester City loanee has proved an inspired signing by Martinez and simply must have his stay at Goodison Park extended.

On and off the ball, he's become integral at Everton, proving a key performer in many games this season.

In possession, everything passes through him. He anticipates several phases ahead of play, taking fewer touches to speed up transitions.

His input has helped accelerate the Toffees' evolution to a possession-based, passing approach with far fewer blips than expected.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 14:  Gareth Barry of Everton in action during the Barclays Premier League match between Everton and Chelsea at Goodison Park on September 14, 2013 in Liverpool, England.  (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)
Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

This is emphasised by Everton's slow, predictable tempo during the games before his arrival, while a quick glance at his passing statistics only reinforce this further.

Barry has been his side's leading passer in 12 of the past 13 Premier League games and many of them by a considerable margin.

Despite missing five of the Toffees' 25 games this season, he's already made 188 more passes than any other team-mate. He also averages 17.5 more passes per game than any current Everton player this season, a significant return that accentuates this pronounced influence.

In short, Barry is responsible for constructing attacks and moving his side around the field at pace. Without him, Everton lose elements of their drive, intensity and urgency on the ball.

Away from the passing game, Barry's created 25 chances this season—more than Ross Barkley and Leighton Baines—while chipping in with three goals and three assists.

Off the ball, he's an uncompromising presence and an effective shield for his back four. He can hassle and harry attacking midfielders and his ability to read the game lands him several vital interceptions. 

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 23:  Steven Gerrard of Liverpool tangles with Gareth Barry of Everton during the Barclays Premier League match between Everton and Liverpool at Goodison Park on November 23, 2013 in Liverpool, England.  (Photo by Alex Livesey
Alex Livesey/Getty Images

His experience in defence allows him to drop back and bring the ball out from the back, giving Everton extra flexibility and a back three in certain situationshis manager's favoured shape.

The Toffees have been a much poorer side without Barry. His presence has led to 11 wins and 37 points from 20 games, while that record reads just one win and six points from the five games he's missed.

Should the Toffees beat Chelsea on Saturday, he will have the best win ratio (57 percent) of any Everton player to play at least 20 games during the Premier League era.

However, as important as it is, obtaining Barry on a permanent deal may not be easy.

He will be on inflated wages at City—£120,000 per week according to The Telegraph—which would almost double that of the Toffees' highest earners.

Approaching 33, his next contract will be on reduced terms, but it will still take a heavily condensed package for him to remain at Everton. Several top sides may also intend to negotiate a deal.

While the Toffees cannot afford to alter their wage bracket, Barry's success, influence and ideal suitability to Martinez's style should make his situation a priority.

Losing him now would destabilise much of Martinez's early progress at the club. Every financial option must be explored to seek an affordable way of prolonging his stay at Goodison Park.

 

Statistics via WhoScored.com