Everton’s ideal Barry replacement puts on brave show for Ecuador

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Gareth Barry was a very successful acquisition for Roberto Martinez at Everton, returning somewhere close to the form that saw him play 53 times for his country. However, the relationship was only ever temporary.

The Toffees and Barry made a nice couple last season, but the Merseyside club’s courting of the released Manchester City man may not end in marriage, with the money of other suitors turning the midfielder’s head.

Before the Spanish manager turns to Tinder to find a new midfield squeeze though, he may have locked eyes on a potential new flame from across a crowded World Cup room.

Ecuador’s Christian Noboa featured in central midfield in all three of his country’s World Cup outings before they exited the tournament by two points.

A player very much in the Barry mould, the 29-year-old can pick a pass and get about the field to disrupt opposition attacks.

His age shouldn’t worry Martinez, who saw no issue with bringing a 33-year-old Barry to Goodison Park, and his relative youth compared to the former Aston Villa icon would be a benefit to the club anyway.

Noboa was guilty of missing a couple of golden opportunities for Ecuador in the 0-0 draw with France, but can usually be relied upon in front of goal, as his 43-career goals atests.

The Dynamo Moscow man has made the joint-most tackles in the tournament to date with 17 but will perhaps be remembered for this fast-food kitchen hairnet he ended up sporting following a clash of heads with Blaise Matuidi:

Noboa-26-6-14-In-Post

The fact the nasty clash (see below) wasn’t enough to force the 43-cap international from the field suggests he’s tough enough for the Premier League and, with Everton known to be short of a few bob, isn’t likely to cost too much if reports that his contract ends this December are accurate.

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Matt Wiggins

No idyllic sound comes close to leather on willow for Matt, whose previous experience includes stints with Spin Magazine and Surrey County Cricket Club. It's not just cricket that interests him though, with football, golf, tennis and any American sport not played on ice all high on his list of favourites.