Why Everton Must Keep Hold of Gareth Barry

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Why Everton Must Keep Hold of Gareth Barry
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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.

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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.

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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. 

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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.

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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

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