A lack of willingness to shell out decent money on fees and wages for senior pros has long been a gripe of Arsenal fans, but it’s unlikely Manchester City veteran Gareth Barry was quite the kind of player they had in mind.
The Daily Star has suggested that Barry has opened talks with the Gunners over a £4m move, with the midfielder concerned that he may not feature in new City manager Manuel Pellegrini’s plans.
Ahead of a World Cup that would likely be the 32-year-old’s last in an England shirt, Barry is understandably concerned that a lack of playing time could see him fall down Roy Hodgson’s pecking order and so a move to the Emirates could be just the ticket, with Arsene Wenger understood to have given the City man assurances that he would be an integral part of the team.
Barry has one year left on his current deal at City and he has been offered a year’s extension on reduced terms. The Gunners will offer him a similar package with a one year contract and an option to extend the deal should the first 12 months prove a success.
The midfielder was still a central cog in the Man City team last term, playing more league games than all but six of his colleagues, but Arsenal have a very similar player in Mikel Arteta currently operating in the same role and the Spaniard arguably offered more in 2012/13, at least statistically.
Barry managed a goal and two assists, whereas Arteta struck six times and laid on an additional three goals for his teammates.
Whilst it might be assumed that the Englishman’s defensive contribution was superior, the Gunners’ pivot actually averaged more tackles and interceptions. Perhaps less surprising is the fact that he also completed his passes with a higher degree of accuracy.
Make no mistake, Barry is an experienced and reliable wise owl in the middle of the park, but he’s also a walking free-kick if the balls gets in behind him, due to a lack of pace and given the Emirates outfit have been looking at the likes of Marouane Fellaini in his position over the summer, the pursuit of the ex-Villa man is a most underwhelming direction.
Daydreaming of the 25-year-old marauding around midfield in a red and white shirt conjures up memories of Gunners’ great Patrick Vieira physically imposing contributions and with seven years left at the highest level ahead of him, Fellaini is the kind of player Arsenal should be spending their money on.
That would make the highly capable Arteta the quality back-up for the defensive midfield spot in the squad and point Arsenal – 12/1 to win the 2013/14 Premier League – towards a more believable title challenge.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.