Contentious 28 year-old Newcastle United midfielder Joey Barton could soon become a potential transfer target for Premiership managers following the news that talks with his current club have broken down.
Though Barton is said to want to finish his contract with Newcastle, which still has another year on it, the price that could be fetched for him in the transfer market has lead the Newcastle hierarchy to confirm that they will be looking to move him on next January, and it is hardly a stretch of the imagination to argue that he could be released even earlier in the summer window.
Instinctively, when one thinks of Barton, it is difficult to avoid jumping to terms such as “cocky”, “aggressive”, even “violent” and “unsporting”. His extremely temperamental nature has lead to a string of incidents both on and off the pitch, resulting in a consequences ranging from high-profile sending offs, match bans and even a short stint in jail for common assault.
Equally, however, it is possible to argue that such labels, while true, fail to capture the aspects of Barton’s mentality that have made him an asset to the managers that have played him throughout his career. It is these same attributes that could make him an excellent coup for Spurs should Harry Redknapp decide to throw his hat in the ring to sign him if and when his club release him.
Initially this idea might seem difficult to come to terms with; how could a loudmouthed and difficult player highly unpopular with a huge section of Premiership fans do anything other than disrupt one of if not the strongest and most dynamic midfields in the league? The answer is that it is precisely the bulldog nature of Barton’s game that might fix a weak link in our current squad’s game.
In his time at Newcastle he has developed into a skilled box-to-box player, coming deep to fetch the ball and inspiring attacks with a never-say-die attitude. In this respect he is very much like Scott Parker, a player who has been also linked with Spurs since January- but who is a little way further into his career and may prove more expensive.
It is the tenacity of Joey Barton that makes him seem an appealing transfer for any manager looking to add a mental edge to their side. It would be difficult to imagine him rolling over and accepting the string of disappointing draws and defeats against lower-tier clubs that has slightly sullied what had previously been a golden season for Spurs this year.
Partnered with Modric in the centre, the muscle and clout of Sandro or Huddlestone would certainly be sacrificed; but the gear-shift that giving Barton play instead of these other plays may help the squad to just edge out games that prove to be more tight.
Obviously, it isn’t tough to imagine the negatives of such a deal easily outweighing the positives- bringing the Barton media circus that has been brewing in recent months to the Lane as well as his highly challenging attitude would be more than enough to scare the club hierarchy off a deal for him. But if Redknapp is serious about bringing a little more inspiration and edge to the squad (as the speculation over Parker suggests he is), I feel he could do far worse than at least carefully mull over such an opportunity should it arise in the near future.