Amidst a flurry of transfer activity on deadline day, Gareth Barry snuck across the M62 at the eleventh hour to join Everton from Manchester City on a season long loan without so much as a batted eyelid.
Into the final year of his contract at the Etihad, the England midfielder had been linked with an exit for most of the summer seemingly surplus to requirements, and so it transpired that the former Aston Villa man joined Roberto Martinez’s side.
There has been no public dissatisfaction at Barry’s departure and it seems to have been met largely with indifference but could it prove more significant than most would anticipate?
City stuttered under Roberto Mancini for most of last season, finishing 13 points behind eventual champions Manchester United, and failed to recreate the sparkling performances that saw them capture their first league title in 52 years the previous season.
A major contributor to the inability to recreate such performances was the decision to let Nigel De Jong join AC Milan. The Dutchman was a terrier in midfield who never let the opposition rest, striving to win the ball back for his team and never afraid to let anyone know who’s boss.
De Jong’s departure restricted the freedom of Yaya Toure to play in a more advanced midfield role as he done to devastating effect in the Citizens title push. Mancini attempted to redress the balance in midfield with the signings of Jack Rodwell and Javi Garcia but neither managed to cement a first team place and Toure soon became part of the holding midfield pairing alongside Barry with David Silva given more freedom in a central role.
Barry’s style is somewhat more subtle than former teammate De Jong but no less effective, last season he had an 80% tackle success rate combined with an 86% pass accuracy, making just two defensive errors in his 31 Premier League outings.
The arrival of Fernandinho from Shakhtar Donetsk signalled the end for Barry as new boss Manuel Pellegrini opted for the pairing of Toure with the £30million Brazilian in City’s opening games and now Barry, the mainstay of the midfield has departed the problem of Toure’s influence remains.
The Ivorian may have found the net twice already this season but both have come directly from free-kicks and the colossal midfielder has only managed a further four attempts on goal, none of which have been on target.
With Barry gone it all but cements Toure’s place in his deeper role in midfield and leaves City thin on the ground in terms of experience with only James Milner as a tried and tested midfield back up option, and he has mainly played wide right in his time with City.
At 32 many will feel it was time for Barry to move on and in a World Cup year he couldn’t wait around for the chance of first team football, but the experienced campaigner could be notable by his absence, especially by those who have never been his biggest fans.
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