Controversy's favourite child, Barton is the perfect epitome of how talent doesn't always make you a star in the footballing world.
From being Manchester City's young player of the year to being behind bars, Barton has touched the heights as well as plunged to the depths of English football in his professional career.
With the right guidance, influence and disciplined lifestyle, things could have been different. It was Barton's responsibility to maximize the talent he was blessed with at a young age.
Instead, his indiscipline and bad temper dominated the talented footballer in him. You could be forgiven for thinking Barton was a goon disguised as a footballer.
During his career, he has faced numerous disciplinary charges and was sentenced to six months' imprisonment for assault in 2008. I've lost count of the number of times FA charged him with violent conduct in the last decade or so.
Quite aptly, Barton is regarded as one of the filthiest players in the Premier League, if not the filthiest, which is not a surprise given his propensity to collect cards and "special ability" to commit brutal tackles and wild lunges.
He has also not been the favourite amongst his teammates, for he criticizes them needlessly, be it the national team players or his club comrades.
You don't have to look further than Ousmane Dabo—the teammate of Barton at Manchester City who suffered head injuries after being assaulted during training—to know what sort of a player Barton was/is.
Samir Nasri might have thanked Barton for making him a better player, but Arsenal fans will remember the infamous incident involving Nasri and Barton back in 2008, when Nasri was new to the fast-paced, rugged Premier League.
In that game Barton just played three minutes, but it was enough for him to get involved in a controversial altercation, which was the talking point later: Barton hacked Nasri down and then smiled sarcastically at the Frenchman. Nasri being Nasri, he retaliated by tripping Barton in a matter of a few minutes.
More recently, in the memorable 4-4 draw at St. James' Park, it was Barton's wrangle with Abou Diaby that resulted in the Frenchman receiving marching orders.
Clearly, Barton's relationship with Arsenal and their fans is strained. Players like Nasri and Diaby might not wish to share the same dressing room as the England midfielder.
This is where the rumour that Arsenal have contacted Newcastle for Barton in a £1.5 million deal comes up.
It's not an unsubstantial rumour, as former Newcastle striker Micky Quinn confirms Arsenal have enquired about Barton, who is set to leave St. James' Park after falling out with management. This transfer, if it does go through, would cause dressing room unrest for obvious reasons.
Barton may be a reformed man now, but his past will always come back to haunt him.
He can't scour the blot off his hands by virtue of his reformed self. Once a thief, always a thief—people will always perceive Barton as the same beastly Barton that he was a couple of years ago.
Coming to Arsenal's interest, is it wise to pursue a player who once underwent anger management therapy just for the reason that he's English, is experienced and, to be more precise, is available on the cheap?
He might add a bit of grit and firepower to the team, but is it worth risking the peaceful ambience in the dressing room?
Above all, is he good enough to play for a Champions League club?
It's fairly simple to conclude that Arsenal don't need such a player at this moment in time, not only because of disreputable image but also for footballing reasons.
Just playing devil's advocate, Barton is not that bad a footballer. His footballing abilities are mired in controversies, assaults, quick temper and wild tackles.
He was excellent for Newcastle in the 2010-11 season. Arsenal could do with his impressive work ethic.
He could be an improvement on the ever-injured Diaby and mediocre Denilson. Accurate with the set-piece deliveries, Barton does have an eye for a pass.
His passing range is also good for a player who is known more for tenacious tackling.
Arsene Wenger might be impressed with the fact that Barton's good at keeping possession.
He's also very efficient in the final third, proven by his four goals and nine assists in the just concluded season, with good crossing ability—three accurate crosses per game in 2010-11, which is more than any Arsenal player.
Arsenal could do with such a stiff player in their midfield to add depth and aggression.
He wouldn't be a first choice but could do a job for Arsenal in the Premiership games as a substitute to preserve a lead or take up responsibility during an injury crisis if that were to occur again.
He could also be used as an intimidating weapon against cultured opponents in the Champions League ties to break up the opponents' rhythm. All that for the reported £1.5 million wouldn't be a bad investment at all.
I am not advocating the signing of Barton, but he wouldn't be a bad option to add a different dimension to the current Arsenal squad for a price that's very much magnetic for the shrewd manager Wenger.
That said, I wouldn't want Arsenal to sign him. How many of you think he would be a good signing?
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