When Joey Barton ended up in jail and Newcastle had the option to 'pull his contract' and dump him, Kevin Keegan allegedly stopped Mike Ashley from doing just that! Since then there have been rumours Ashley has had a major problem with Barton's £60-plus per week wages. So much so the former England international (if we can call 10 minutes of fame an international career) has not signed a new deal, and there are concerns Aston Villa or West Ham will snap him up this summer. Having already lost Andy Carroll, Ashley obviously has a price on the head of every player in the squad, and losing Barton is a distinct possibility. Barton has finally found his touch in Newcastle colours, but it has taken a long time, and there have been numerous 'incidents' that have shamed the name of Newcastle United. Right now, losing him this summer would be a far heftier blow than Jose Enrique, and I seriously mean that. There are murmurs that Barton remains desperate to sign a contract extension and remain a Magpie until the end of his career . because he has finally won over the fans, and he enjoys the backing he gets from them during hostile trips away from home. Meanwhile, Ashley is eager to preserve his delicate wage structure, and that was the problem when Steven Taylor’s contract became a huge issue around Christmas. Asley feels Barton owes Newcastle after such a shameful start to his Newcastle career . but what more can he do? He wants to stay - he is playing well - so shouldn't Ashley let the past stay in the past? It would cost United a hefty chunk of the £35million Andy Carroll money to replace him. OK we expect big things in a major summer rebuilding project with £35m on the table . but re-signing Barton would be a flying start to keeping the fans happy.