Joey Barton, the often quarrelsome, always controversial midfielder has a cluster of clubs hovering over his potential sale, stemming from his most recent troubles at Newcastle. Available for free, early rumblings have begun surfacing this morning that Everton have been priced out of the bartering process due to his high wage demands, although David Moyes' side still remain favourites with bookmakers.
After frequently spouting his feelings about a flawed hierarchy at Newcastle, all through the social media of Twitter, (see @Joey7Barton) Newcastle seem to have run out of patience with their midfielder who has previously spent time in jail during his turbulent years on Tyneside.
Despite obvious reasons to be cautious around the unruly, occasionally cantankerous Barton, his displays on the pitch have recently been of a very high calibre. Whilst generally amicable and congruous, Everton's own squad seem to have plateaued somewhat. No acquisitions in two years, apart from Jermaine Beckford, leaves a squad in desperate need of some fresh impetus.
With the capital at Goodison Park at an all time low, David Moyes has been unable to offload enough of his fringe players to be able to buy. He is now left scouring the loan and free-agent markets, already meticulously plucked by other clubs throughout the summer.
However, this rapidly changing scenario at Newcastle presents Moyes and Everton with the sudden prospect of a high quality, cheap signing, certain to improve the surroundings at Everton. Barton would penetrate the first eleven, create increased competition for places, and provide a boost to an ailing club where the top players must be starting to question the side’s current predicament and future aims.
Were Barton to be ushered out the door at Newcastle in this unceremonious manner, it would almost certainly rouse an inner anger in the man. As well as he performed last season, he would surely begin a resolute quest to highlight what a grave error Newcastle made releasing him.
Such actions would potential see him motivated and instantly committed to his new suitor. He would aim to thrive on the pitch as soon as possible and drag his new team as far as he could.
Everton possess a harmonious and talented squad, with enough elders to attempt to keep Barton in check. Barton’s arrival would have the capability of kick-starting a squad, so often lethargic at the start of the season, despite the obvious talents within. The addition of a quality player, determined to excel, could be the catalyst Everton have been searching for to finally piece together a consistent season.
Barton is also a local lad, and although he has encountered several skirmishes with Evertonians over the years, he has frequently linked himself with a return to Goodison Park, citing unfinished business at the club he supported as a boy. After leaving Everton’s youth team, he still harbours unfulfilled ambitions at Goodison Park that would surely spur him on further should he return to the club.
Creatively Everton have become increasingly impotent in recent seasons. Last term Steven Pienaar, Mikel Arteta and Leighton Baines were generally relied upon to supply most of the ammunition. Whilst Baines excelled, Arteta suffered an indifferent season, adapting to the pace of the Premier League after lengthy spells away from the game due to injury.
Pienaar was not convinced to extend his contract due to Everton’s lack of ambition and lull in form. He departed for Tottenham in January, a side that Everton are ideally trying to match.
Last season only eight players created more goals for a team than Barton. His touch, craft and accurate pass would be greatly appreciated by all at Everton and would certainly fill the creative void left by Steven Pienaar.
As well as being obviously short of options up front, Everton are in dire need of players to deploy on the flanks. Since Steven Pienaar left, Diniyar Bilyaletdinov has rarely set the Premier League alight in his place and is the only recognised winger in Everton's squad. Everyone else performs as a makeshift wide midfielder.
Seamus Coleman has grown in stature in the role, but he will be keen to return to his natural full back berth as soon as possible. Leon Osman, an underrated central midfielder, has dutifully played out wide for years at Everton. Despite restricting his role and hampering his major assets, he has never been one to turn down the manager's request and has continued on admirably. Lately Victor Anichebe and Jack Rodwell have also been asked to play on the flanks, which seems to have mainly helped stall their careers.
Whilst Barton is most at home in the middle of the park, last season he found a new niche as a wide midfielder, consistently supplying sumptuous deliveries from the right flank. Although he may prefer to perform centrally, given the success he achieved out wide last year for Newcastle, Everton would undoubtedly benefit from having that extra option at their desposal.
A bugbear for many Everton fans in recent times has been a repeated lack of consistency stemming from set pieces. Direct free-kicks apart, where Mikel Arteta and certainly Leighton Baines have had success, corners and free-kicks from wide positions have not caused nearly enough jitters to opponents in recent times.
Everton do boast a decent record, but with Tim Cahill, Louis Saha, Marouane Fellaini, as well as a pair of sizeable defenders eager to be thrust forward, Everton should be reeking havoc from every single one. These situations are increasingly vital to Everton, considering how arduous it has become to break down defences at Goodison Park. The consistency that Diniyar Bilyaletdinov, Baines and Arteta have all hit the first man frequently causes a collective howl of discontent from the Everton faithful.
Barton created five goals from set-pieces last season, more than any other player in the Premier League. He also created countless opportunities for his Newcastle peers, making them one of the most potent forces from dead ball situations. With Barton complimenting Baines, he would immediately expand Everton’s threat in these situations.
This point is certainly not an attempt to pardon some of the unforgivable acts Barton has performed during his career, or to suggest a better manager could have prevented any from occurring. However, David Moyes may be a more uncompromising and possibly inspiring mentor than those who have tried to keep Barton in line before, which could benefit him.
It is doubtful whether the likes of Stuart Pearce, Kevin Keegan, Chris Hughton and Alan Pardew have run a ship as tight as David Moyes does. Few of his previous managers are held in such high esteem in modern day football as Moyes is, a factor that could inspire Barton on and off the pitch.
Indiscipline at Everton rarely makes the media, as Moyes exercises his demands in-house. Backed up by model professionals such as Phil Neville, Tim Cahill and Phil Jagielka among others, Barton may have a harder time leading himself and others astray.
Whether Barton would be able to adhere to all that Everton would expect is far from guaranteed, but were he to join on a free transfer, Everton would be able to cast him adrift without coming under as much scrutiny as Newcastle currently are.
Joey Barton is a figure that polarises opinion. His disruptive past may be too much for some Evertonians to stomach, although surely few could argue his talents would not improve Everton's current squad.
In such financially constrained times, Everton may not find a better deal wherever they look. If reports are true, that Everton are priced out in the wages category, Moyes should seriously consider what Everton are offering. With Joseph Yobo surely on his way to Turkey when the match fixing uproar begins to settle, they money used on his, Steven Pienaar and James Vaughan's wages can surely be used to offer Barton a competitive offer. With his Everton ties, any decent amount may be hard for Barton to resist.
As divided as Everton supporters may be on this issue, has there been a better opportunity for the club to introduce new talent to the squad in the past few years? Last season, Everton were tipped to contest the top four, despite few additions to the squad. With only Pienaar absent from that side now, the arrival of Barton next season could yet propel Everton up to heights that very few are currently forecasting.
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