Gareth Barry ‘completely understands’ the furore following Grady Diangana’s permanent transfer to West Brom from West Ham this summer.
The 39-year-old – who retired last week after his West Brom contract expired – believes the his former side have a star talent on their hands and is excited to see the flying winger test his mettle in the Premier League.
Barry will feature during BT Sport’s coverage of the weekend clash between two of his former sides – Everton and West Brom – and spoke exclusively to RadioTimes.com about the Baggies’ tantalising new signing.
He said: “Training with Grady last year and seeing his performances I just didn’t see West Brom getting him back. I thought he’d go back to West Ham.
“Apparently he did have a good pre-season and I thought he’d be in and around their squad, playing games for West Ham this year.
“I understand the furore around it all the West Ham players not being happy – I completely understand it – because I couldn’t see West Brom getting him back, especially on a permanent deal. It’s strange that’s happened but the West Ham board will know why.”
Diangana joined the West Ham youth system aged 12 and made 17 appearances for the club before being loaned to West Brom where he quickly became a fan favourite on the way to promotion.
Several West Ham players have taken to social media in recent weeks, including captain Mark Noble, to express their anger at letting a top youth prospect leave the club, especially to join a Premier League rival.
As captain of this football club I’m gutted, angry and sad that Grady has left, great kid with a great future!!!!! https://t.co/oNPPEp8Pt6
— MARK NOBLE (@Noble16Mark) September 4, 2020
But West Ham’s loss is certainly West Brom’s gain according to Barry who knows of Diangana’s qualities more than most.
“The skill he’s got, the way he dribbles, if you’re marking him he’s very unpredictable the way he moves with the ball.
“When somebody is unpredictable, he’s hard to come up against so I’m excited to see him perform in the Premier League because Grady, like a few others in the West Brom squad, have not got that Premier League experience.
“To adapt to that next level of quality can make it difficult at times but I’m confident he will have a good season.”
Barry – who became the Premier League’s record appearance maker with a grand total of 653 top flight games throughout his career – believes West Brom are in for a tough season, but looking to the future will help their cause.
“It will be nerve-wracking because the players they’ve signed and spent money on, they’ve not improved on the team that got over the line last year.
“They’ve signed the loan players, and I understand why the club has done that, because these players, [Matheus] Pereira, [Callum] Robinson, Diangana, they’re all young and still improving.
“The worry will be that the team hasn’t improved, but with young players they can get that believe and a couple of results where the confidence grows, these players with keep improving. In terms of the long-term futures of the signings, I think they’re brilliant for West Brom but that doesn’t get away from the fact it’ll be a tough season.”
West Brom travel to face Everton this weekend in a bid to record their first Premier League points of the season, and they will hope to do so in front of the BT Sport cameras.
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