It is understood that veteran Everton midfielder Gareth Barry is set to leave the Toffees and return to the West Midlands, with West Bromwich Albion his destination.
Barry, now 36, is one of the most prolific Premier League players in history in terms of appearances made, currently lying second behind Ryan Giggs – but is set to surpass him this season and become the new record holder with, seemingly at least a season or two left in the tank to far exceed Giggs’ total of 632 appearances.
Barry missed Everton’s opening day win over Stoke with an ankle injury, but is currently undergoing a medical at the Hawthorns, with an initial 12 month contract on the table, with the option of a further year available. He is expected to sign before the Baggies game against Burnley on Saturday, though whether he will be fit in time to play remains to be seen.
A fee of £1 million is expected to be agreed between the two clubs.
West Bromwich Albion boss Tony Pulis will see Barry as the ideal replacement for Darren Fletcher, who joined Stoke City earlier this summer. Pulis believes in a steady, experienced, deep lying central midfielder who can break up play and hold in front of his defence, allowing more expressive midfielders to create the attacks. Barry, despite his advancing years, is in great shape and clearly feels he can maintain top flight standard for another season or two yet – which if so, will represent great value for money and very good business for player and club alike.
TOP 10 PLAYERS WITH MOST PREMIER LEAGUE APPEARANCES
- RYAN GIGGS – 632 (Manchester United)
- GARETH BARRY – 628 (Aston Villa, Manchester City, Everton)
- FRANK LAMPARD – 609 (West Ham, Chelsea, Manchester City)
- DAVID JAMES – 572 (Liverpool, Aston Villa, West Ham, Manchester City, Portsmouth)
- GARY SPEED – 535 (Leeds United, Everton, Newcastle Utd, Bolton Wanderers)
- EMILE HESKEY – 516 (Leicester City, Liverpool, Birmingham City, Wigan Athletic, Aston Villa)
- MARK SCHWARZER – 514 (Middlesbrough, Fulham, Chelsea, Leicester City)
- JAMIE CARRAGHER – 508 (Liverpool)
- PHILLIP NEVILLE – 505 (Manchester United, Everton
- STEVEN GERRARD – 504 (Liverpool)
- RIO FERDINAND – 504 (West Ham, Leeds United, Manchester United, QPR)