West Brom are set to see a legend of their modern era bid farewell this summer.
Chris Brunt’s imminent departure has already been announced, with the Baggies veteran linked with a move to Stoke City in the coming weeks.
But one player who finds himself in a similar position to Brunt, is 39-year-old Gareth Barry.
The midfielder is out of contract at the end of this season, with no concrete indication as to what his future plans may be.
Of course, with his 40th birthday on the horizon, retirement is an obvious option, especially when one of the alternatives is a campaign in the Premier League with Albion next term.
But while the top flight may be a step too far for a player of his age, there’s no reason to believe that Barry couldn’t follow Brunt’s lead and compete for another season in the Championship next term.
Taking this season alone into account, Barry has a pass completion rate that is 0.2% better than Brunt’s, a total action success rate that is 2.5% better, and even has a dribble success rate of 100%, as per Wyscout.
The image above is a pass map from Barry’s outing against Newcastle United in the FA Cup this season.
The ex-England international completed 22 out of his 23 attempted passes, a success rate of 96%.
But it also gives us a real insight into the role that Barry can still play in a side.
The vast majority of his distribution comes from one central area just in front of the back four.
At 39, you can forgive him for maybe not having the engine that he might have a decade ago, but this just shows that in the right set up, there are still few players who can take hold of the ball and dictate the tempo and direction of a midfield battle with the adeptness that he can.
Similarly, this is Barry’s map of interceptions in the 1-0 FA Cup win against West Ham earlier this year.
Aside from a couple of vital interventions in and around his own goalmouth, the first thing that really jumps out is how they all happen within the width of the six-yard box, with a single, minor discrepancy.
Again, it’s about playing to Barry’s strengths.
Given him a defence to shield with support in wide areas to negate the need for him to stray too far, and he will still thrive.
It’s no coincidence that his heat map from the Newcastle match highlights two main positions in defensive midfield, neither of which go beyond the edge of the 18-yard box.
Of course, Barry might decide to call it quits himself before next season rolls around – and after such a long and distinguished career he would have more than earned that retirement.
But if he really wanted to, we are sure that he could go for another season at least, even if it isn’t with West Brom.
In other West Brom news, ‘Horrendous place’, ‘Why?’ – Some West Brom fans react to transfer exit speculation.