Joey Barton was released from his contract at Rangers on Thursday, six months after he joined the Glasgow club.
The thirty-four-year-old’s contract was terminated with immediate effect after a training ground bust-up that followed the 5-1 defeat to Old Firm rivals Celtic in September.
Despite this termination being another blotch on the Huyton-born midfielder’s record, there are sure to be a number of clubs fighting to secure his signature, if he wants to continue his playing career.
After being instrumental in Burnley’s promotion from the Championship last season, Barton is the ideal player for most clubs in the second tier of English football. With the Villans aiming for promotion, the experience he has could be priceless.
Barton’s disciplinary record is the main reason why many fans have reservations around the midfielder signing for their club and if our club were to cement an interest in the player then those thoughts will undoubtedly be rife within the club’s fan base.
There is no doubting his ability, though many even point to his antics stopping him from reaching his full potential as a top-level Premier League star. He has proven in spells at Newcastle United and Manchester City that he was more than comfortable in the Premier League.
Known for his ability to marshal the midfield, pick up intelligent positions and make the game flow, his work rate and desire to give everything to the game may have been to his detriment at times when he has overstepped the line but are qualities that are needed in a player in the Championship.
The rough and tumble, unrelenting nature of the Sky Bet Championship means that tough characters are needed at any club where the sights are set on getting into the Premier League. A character of Barton’s bulldog-like nature was exactly what was missing from Aston Villa’s disastrous 2015-16 campaign. The lack of leadership in the dressing room to ruffle feathers when things are not going right affected the squad. Barton could play that role effectively.
If those words upset the dressing room instead of firing them up then that is where the biggest concerns regarding the Liverpudlian come in. Steve Bruce has worked magic to turn around the atmosphere around the club and so the uncertainty that would surround the arrival of a player such as Barton is understandable.
Whether it is a risk worth taking is a matter of opinion and conversations about the topic will be had by fans of many Championship clubs until Barton’s future is decided. For every club that has reaped the rewards of having Joey Barton there has been another where it hasn’t quite worked. Only time will tell what happens with the midfielder but, in my opinion, he would be an outstanding option on a free.