The career of Joey Barton took another incredible twist on Monday as the player first set up an impromptu press conference on Twitter to reveal Newcastle’s decision that they would let him go on a free transfer after growing tired of his criticism of the club, before a statement on the club’s website undercut him by a few hours.
All that meant that Barton was left to train alone today as he contemplated his future away from St James’ Park next season, despite having previously expressed his desire to see out the remaining year on his contract with the club before walking away on a free in 12 months’ time.
The cracks started to appear in the relationship when Kevin Nolan left Newcastle to join West Ham earlier this summer, a decision which prompted outrage from Barton.
The former Manchester City midfielder publicly criticised the club and questioned their ambitions, taking to Twitter on numerous occasions to vent his frustrations.
However the situation deteriorated when contract talks between the club and Barton’s agent Willie McKay broke down, leading to the revelation that Barton is free to leave the club this summer.
Arsenal were said to be interested in bringing the controversial Barton to the Emirates and were initially amongst the favourites to land the 28-year-old, however Gunners boss Arsene Wenger’s interest has receded somewhat as he pursues other targets.
That leaves Everton, who had him on their books as a youngster, Aston Villa and Tottenham Hotspur leading the way for his signature.
Harry Redknapp is said to be mulling over the risk of brinigng a decicive figure such as Barton to White Hart Lane, although the player himself will point to his excellent form last season and his discipline on the field as a sign that he has left the past behind.
Villa Boss Alex McLeish’s interest is said to be much more concrete than any other Premier League manager’s at the moment, with the Scot viewing Barton as an ideal signing to get Villa moving forward after a difficult season last time round.