Spurs have stolen a march on their main rivals in the race to sign Joey Barton on a free transfer. Spurs are currently instigating the first talks with the Newcastle United midfielder. The shock decision by the Magpies on Monday - now said to have been sparked by a dressing-room bust-up with boss Alan Pardew - has set off a mad scramble among England’s top clubs. But despite firm interest from at least two clubs set for this season's Champions League, Harry Redknapp is trying to use his famous powers of persuasion to tie down the playmaker as quickly as possible. Barton’s agent Willie McKay: "It is great news for Joey. 'We have been inundated with interest. 'We're talking to top Premier League clubs and European clubs. One is very, very interested.' It now seems Tottenham are the 'very interested' club and manager Redknapp is keen to recruit new players.