Former Arsenal midfielder Paul Merson has said the Londoners should have signed veteran midfielder Gareth Barry this summer.

In the latest of an increasingly bizarre set of opinions, Paul Merson has said that Arsenal made a mistake not signing Gareth Barry on a free transfer. The 36-year-old, joined West Brom on a free transfer in what Merson thinks is a great deal for the Baggies.

It’s such a good deal that he wonders why Arsenal didn’t do it. “Why didn’t Arsenal take him for a year?” Merson said, reports the Daily Star. “He gets the ball, he moves it forward quickly, he don’t mess about – no airs and graces. He get the ball and goes, ‘Right here you are.’

“(He can) give it to Ozil, give it to Sanchez, give it to the players, when he just sits there, and they’ll go and play. He’s never going to go anywhere he’s always going to stay where he is. (He) keeps shape… I just thinks it’s an unbelievable buy for West Brom.”

Arsenal already have several players that do what Barry do. Xhaka’s role in the team is to sit and pass the ball forward. Elneny can also perform in a similar role. Moreover, Barry is 36. You don’t see many sides near the top of the table signing 36-year-old players for anything other than emergency cover.

Merson’s opinion might be more understandable if Barry were in his prime. When he joined Manchester City, quite a few people wondered why Arsenal didn’t try to sign him. He was heavily linked with Liverpool previously too.

Now, though, it’s just a bizarre statement to make. Barry is signing for West Brom because that’s the level he can play at now. He was no longer good enough for Everton, so why would he be for the Gunners?

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News and feature writer with a BA in Creative and Professional Writing from the University of East London. Long-time Arsenal fan also following Sevilla and local side Southend United. You can find me on Twitter @jeinchy29 talking about Arsenal and the issues affecting the English game,