Celtic head Barton chase as Newcastle target Barnetta

04 August 2011 08:00
CELTIC have become the first club to hold detailed talks with Joey Barton's representatives, but the Newcastle United midfielder insists he is prepared to sit tight if the right move does not come along.

Joey The Philosopher: Click here to read some of Joey Barton's most profound tweets

With Stoke City and Everton the only other clubs to have followed up their initial interest with a more formal inquiry, the chances of Barton making a swift move from St James' Park are receding.

Indeed, while Newcastle officials are doing all they can to push him through the exit door, the 28-year-old insists he is willing to run down the final year of his existing contract, even if it means him not playing a competitive game for nine months.

Barton's agent, Willie McKay, has sounded a bullish note in the last 48 hours, claiming his client has attracted the interest of a series of leading Premier League clubs.

But while the likes of Arsenal, Manchester United and Chelsea have been linked with the one-time England international in the past, none have signalled a strong intention to table a formal offer for his services.

Celtic have, with their manager, Neil Lennon, keen to add Barton's experience and expertise to a side that finished well behind Rangers last season.

However, the Bhoys will struggle to fund Barton's wages, which are currently believed to be around £56,000-a-week.

That could open the door for Everton, and officials from the Goodison Park club are hoping to hold discussions with Barton and his representatives later today.

Stoke is another potential destination, with Potters boss Tony Pulis keen to add to his midfield ranks.

Barton is no longer training with the Magpies' first-team squad, and is expected to work alone when the rest of the squad reconvenes at the club's Darsley Park training ground this morning.

However, if Newcastle officials thought he would leave quietly, they overlooked Barton's determination to do things his own way.

Communicating via his Twitter feed yesterday, he said: "Just because ur told to jump, it does not necessarily mean u have to. I may choose to stand perfectly still. It's my right.just a thought"

In the long term, such a scenario appears untenable, but there is every chance of the current saga dragging beyond the start of the new season, a situation that could potentially prove disruptive to the Magpies' attempts to hit the ground running in the new campaign.

Pardew would like to replace Barton as quickly as possible, and Newcastle officials have made a preliminary move for Bayer Leverkusen midfielder Tranquillo Barnetta.

Magpies scouts watched the Switzerland international on a number of occasions last season, but negotiations are unlikely to be simple with Leverkusen hoping to hold out for a fee of at least £6m.

Pardew is also targeting a new centre-forward and a full-back replacement for Jose Enrique, who is edging ever nearer to Liverpool.

With a move for Mevlut Erdinc dead in the water, Newcastle officials have turned their attention to Reading's Shane Long.

The Magpies have so far balked at the Royals' £7.5m valuation of the Republic of Ireland international, but their hand could be forced if big-spending Leicester City follow up yesterday's declaration of interest in his services.

Leicester boss Sven-Goran Eriksson has targeted Long as the final piece of a jigsaw he hopes will lead to promotion from the Championship.

That means Newcastle could be forced to pay over the odds if they are to land Long rather than one of their alternative targets based overseas.

Meanwhile, West Ham have approached the Magpies to discuss the possibility of a deal that would see Fraser Forster moving to Upton Park, with England international Robert Green heading in the opposite direction.

The detailed terms of the agreement have not been finalised, but despite having Forster, Tim Krul and Steve Harper on their books, it is understood Newcastle officials have expressed a willingness to explore the offer further.

Source: Northern_Echo

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