Barry can play in top flight when he's 40, says Martinez
If there is one advantage for a footballer in lacking pace it is that advancing years are less damaging. Thus Gareth Barry will make his 500th Premier League appearance tonight against Newcastle United with his Everton manager Roberto Martinez predicting in all seriousness that the midfielder will still be playing in the top flight when he is 40.
Barry left Manchester City on transfer deadline day as he was no longer guaranteed regular first-team football and Martinez believes that he has the character and the dedication to ensure he remains a long way from retirement. The 32-year-old midfielder will become the 10th player to reach 500 games in the Premier League, with Manchester United's Ryan Giggs and Chelsea's Frank Lampard the only others still playing in the top flight.
"Gareth could be a very significant player for Everton for years to come," Martinez said. "When you see a player perform the way Gareth did on his home debut, straight away you see a perfect fit. And in football the best decisions are the ones that are natural. His deal is a loan to the end of the season.
"It would be great if we can work with Gareth and he can become a really significant player and part of the history of Everton."
Barry made his Premier League debut for Aston Villa against Sheffield Wednesday in 1998. Martinez has been delighted with the impact the England international has had on his Everton squad. "Gareth can play up to his 40s," he said. "The longer he plays and the older he gets, he will be able to influence the team in a different way, like Ryan Giggs has done at Manchester United."
Newcastle boss Alan Pardew, meanwhile, paid tribute to his Premier League newcomers and feels the team are starting to feel the full benefits of the five players signed from France in January.
Pardew looked to be on the brink of the sack last season as Newcastle just avoided relegation. But he feels far more secure after an end-of-season inquest and while owner Mike Ashley and, more pointedly, director of football Joe Kinnear have been heavily criticised for failing to make any permanent signings over the summer, Pardew has refused to complain.
"We have that competition now and that is what drives the team," Pardew said. "I do not think we had that, in offensive areas particularly, last year.
"This season, we have Sylvain Marveaux, Sammy Ameobi and Yoan Gouffran who have not been in the first team, but all did terrific (in the Capital One Cup) against Leeds. You have to play very well now to stay in the team and that's what gets you that consistency." (© Daily Telegraph, London)
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