The Daily Star claim that Villa are still interested in Newcastle midfielder Joey Barton and new manager Alex McLeish is ready to tempt the Toon with a £3m bid.
The controversial midfielder’s future at St James’ Park was thrown into doubt after the sale of his teammate and good friend Kevin Nolan to West Ham left Barton unhappy. Immediately after the deal that saw the former Magpies skipper drop down a division was confirmed, Barton tweeted his displeasure at the move, claiming that he, defender Jose Enrique and winger Jonas Guttierrez could be next at the exit door at the club.
Barton has since made a u-turn on such claims, stating that he is happy with Newcastle one day, but admitting that he hopes to play in the Champions League one day. Now in all honesty that isn’t going to happen at Villa so whether this deal could be made is up for debate but Barton has always rated himself, even if few else did, as one of the best midfielders in the league.
The former Man City man had a good season last year, deployed in the most part in an unfamiliar right midfield role but excelling out wide. The 28-year-old deputised for his best mate Nolan when the scouser was injured or suspended but has not been offered a new deal beyond his contract which runs until 2012, meaning a cut price sum of around £3m could tempt Alan Pardew into a sale.
In 32 games last season Barton weighed in with 4 goals and an impressive 9 assists and was particularly dangerous from set pieces, a feature from which Villa faltered in both an attacking and defensive sense last term. His delivery will undoubtedly be a key aspect that will be enticing suitors, and with Ashley Young set to leave the club there is no real surprise he has been linked with Villa. The ‘bad boy’ averaged 1.1 shots per game and completed 75% of his passes last term, as well as making 2.5 tackles a match, second only to Cheikh Tiote in Newcastle’s side. The midfielder was top of the class at St James in terms of key passes per game, averaging an impressive 2.53, along with 3 crosses and 6 long balls in a match.
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