West Bromwich Albion midfielder Gareth Barry turned down a two-year contract offer from Everton in order to join the Baggies, according to Tony Pulis. Former Aston Villa captain Barry completed his move back to the Midlands on Tuesday (15 August), leaving Merseyside after four years as he strives for regular game-time during the twilight of his career.
Everton manager Ronald Koeman recently spoke of his desire to keep Barry at the club as he prepares for a gruelling season thanks to Europa League commitments but was unable to convince the 36-year-old to stay as a rotation option at Goodison Park.
The former Manchester City lynchpin performed admirably during his time at Everton but fell behind Morgan Schneiderlin, Idrissa Gueye and Tom Davies in the pecking order during the second half of last season on Merseyside. With Davy Klaassen, Muhamed Besic and James McCarthy also vying for minutes in the Toffees' engine room, Barry's chances of regaining his regular starting spot under Koeman were slim at best.
West Brom boss Pulis will certainly be able to offer the veteran regular minutes and has no concerns over the former England international's age or fitness. The Welshman believes Barry will "fill the void" left by Darren Fletcher, who joined Stoke City on a free transfer earlier this summer.
Pulis also commended Barry's decision to reject a longer contract offer from Everton in order to heighten his chances of regular action and is hoping to successfully integrate the former Brighton and Hove Albion academy product before his side's trip to Burnley on Saturday.
"We've got no doubts about his fitness at all," said Pulis. "We've checked out all the data and Gareth was in the top five of midfielders in the Premier League in terms of distance covered.
"There are no issues with his age whatsoever. We've also shown at this club that senior players who look after themselves can continue to compete consistently at a very high level. It has become the norm. We're just really looking forward to working with him and integrating him into our squad. I think he's going to be a great addition."
"There was a big void when we lost 'Fletch' and Gareth will fill that void. He's a fantastic player and I think his attitude towards playing is really gauged by the fact that Everton had offered him a two-year contract to stay there.
"He feels a one-year contract at West Brom is the best move for him which is tremendous for our club and shows you just how much he wants to play."
Everton may have just lost an influential midfielder from their ranks, but they are about to recruit another in the form of Gylfi Sigurdsson. The Toffees finally agreed a £45m (€49.5m, $57.9m) fee with Swansea City after weeks of posturing and drawn-out negotiations and are set to confirm the capture of the Icelandic international within the next 24 hours.
Sigurdsson was not included in the Swansea squad that drew with Southampton on Saturday due to the ongoing speculation and underwent a medical with Everton on Wednesday. The former Tottenham star has been one of Koeman's top targets for the past 12 months and will go some way to fulfilling the Dutchman's desire for greater midfield productivity at Goodison Park.