Premier League - Where next for Joey Barton?

Tue, 02 Aug 12:43:00 2011

The news that Newcastle United have decided to allow Joey Barton to leave the club on a free transfer has immediately provoked a flood of speculation about where the future of one of England's most divisive players lies.

Premier League - Where next for Barton?

A pariah to many due to his time in jail and reputation for violence, Barton has gone some way to rehabilitating his reputation by going sober and, as Newcastle have found to their cost, developing a love for Twitter.

His philosophical musing to his followers on the morning after the day he was transfer listed was: "In times of universal deceit, telling the truth will be a revolutionary act. George Orwell."

But Orwell also wrote that "serious sport is war minus the shooting" and few practitioners of football have been quite as combative as Barton, both on and off the pitch.

Indeed, any club looking to sign the midfielder knows that he comes with plenty of baggage given his notorious track record, but his form for Newcastle last season was excellent as he scored four goals and nine assists despite often playing out of position at right midfield.

Having been forced to train alone by Newcastle on Tuesday his task is now to sit down with those clubs interested in signing him and take a decision on where to take a career that has proved consistently controversial.

So who are the clubs ready to take a risk on the Premier League's enfant terrible?

Arsenal (9/4): Perhaps the most contentious inclusion on this list. Arsenal were linked with Barton earlier in the summer and it could be argued he would add a much-needed component of steel to the spine of the Arsenal side. However, a straw poll of Arsenal fans on Twitter suggests they are vehemently against any deal and Barton has also had a run-in with Samir Nasri in the past.

Tottenham (3/1): Harry Redknapp might take exception to being called a wheeler-dealer, but he does like to sniff out an unexpected signing and the addition of Barton on a free would strengthen a midfield that has lost Sandro due to injury and could be further deprived of Luka Modric if Chelsea make a big enough bid. Barton is not a like-for-like replacement for either player, but he is certainly an upgrade on Jermaine Jenas.

Aston Villa (3/1): Alex McLeish has already demonstrated he is not afraid to court controversy having crossed Birmingham to take the Villa job this summer, and early rumours suggest he is very interested in bringing Barton to the club. Having played on the right for Newcastle for much of last season, Barton would also bring important versatility to a squad lacking in strength in depth.

Manchester United (4/1): Another destination that would provoke a furious reaction. Sir Alex Ferguson has handled difficult personalities in the past in Eric Cantona and Roy Keane and few can match the Scot in the art of man-management. However, United are arguably in need of a more advanced player, with Anderson, Darren Fletcher, Michael Carrick, Ryan Giggs and possibly Darron Gibson all in contention for a central role.

Everton (9/2): Bringing Barton back to his home town of Liverpool may not be without its risks - it was here that he attacked a man in 2007, spending two months in jail as a result - but on recent evidence he is a reformed character and his availability on a free transfer will be mightily tempting for David Moyes, who works under oppressive financial restraints at Goodison Park.

West Ham (10/1): Surely a player who performed superbly last season for Newcastle wouldn't consider dropping down a division? No? Then what about Kevin Nolan? Barton's former team-mate on Tyneside couldn't resist the lure of linking up with Sam Allardyce once again and there are suggestions that Barton is refusing to exclude the possibility of dropping into the Championship.

Where do you think Joey Barton should go? Is there a club not listed here that you think would be a good fit for the Newcastle man?

Tom Adams - follow me on Twitter @tomEurosport / Eurosport

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