Potential target Barry could certainly do a job

Posted by Luke O'Farrell

Getty ImagesRumored Everton target Gareth Barry enjoyed an 80% tackle success rate last season with Manchester City.

Given the shortage of recognised central midfielders and the uncertainty surrounding the first choice midfield duo -- with concerns over the future of Marouane Fellaini and the fitness of Darron Gibson -- it is unsurprising to see Everton linked to other midfield options.

As the bright lights of Champions League football threaten to tempt Fellaini elsewhere, the name of James McCarthy is being bandied about as a potential replacement. Nevertheless, regardless of where Fellaini plies his trade in the months ahead, an extra midfielder is ideally welcome to bolster a central area short on numbers.

Another of those recently linked is Manchester City midfielder Gareth Barry. Short on first team chances due to the £30 million arrival of Fernandinho, the 32-year old is entering the final year of his City contract.

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Once viewed by Rafa Benitez as heir apparent to midfield maestro Xabi Alonso at Liverpool -- a failed move that has dogged the player ever since -- Barry saw his credentials further trodden on as Mesut Ozil infamously skipped around his midfield rival during World Cup 2010.

Snorts of derision rose up from supporters when reports linked Barry to Merseyside, but the midfield man compares favourably to those at Everton. After all, the majority were less than enamoured with Gibson, yet the Irish midfielder is now one of the first names on the team sheet (when fit).

With Barry reportedly earning £100,000 a week, a figure far beyond the Everton wage ceiling, the potential for a loan move depends on the willingness of City to subsidise a percentage of his wages. In the event of any forthcoming agreement, the question is what can Barry offer the Everton midfield?

Often employed as one-half of a defensive midfield pairing, Barry would occupy the same role at Goodison. Last season, Barry returned an 80% tackle success rate, which is above that of Gibson (61%), Fellaini (73%) and Leon Osman (78%). Barry also attempted tackles with greater regularity. His rate of one every 37.45 minutes was above that of the aforementioned Everton trio.

In addition, despite just 27 league starts, the former Aston Villa player topped an important midfield category at the Etihad. Barry won possession 107 times in the midfield third -- a figure bettered by none of his illustrious team-mates.

In terms of passing accuracy, Barry ended last season level with Osman (86%) and ahead of Gibson (82%) and Fellaini (79%). Attempting 111 long passes, the City midfielder married accurate passing to an accomplished range. Of the Everton central midfielders, only Osman (80%) improved on Barry's 77% long ball accuracy.

Although primarily used in a defensive role, Barry still managed to contribute in attack by creating 36 chances at a rate of one every 67 minutes. Only Fellaini (40) created more chances, largely due to his use in the advanced role, and none of the three improved upon the minutes per chance output.

Weighing in with two assists, the same figure as Gibson and Osman, Barry has the ability to add to the Everton midfield in defence and attack. There are submarines with sharper turning circles, but the absence of a transfer fee eliminates any risk. Moreover, on the evidence of last season, a loan deal would be a risk worth taking for a proven Premier League player.

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