Arsenal FC: 5 Reasons Arsene Wenger Should Swoop for Joey Barton
The fact that United, Arsenal and Tottenham have immediately been credited with a move for the Newcastle star speaks volumes of the player's quality.
And so, here are five reasons why Arsene Wenger should consider a swoop for Joey Barton.
Joey Barton made nine assists from central midfield for Newcastle United last season, the 10th highest in the Premier League.
Cesc Fabregas aside, he made more assists than any Arsenal midfielder, with his deliveries from free-kicks and corners crucial for the Toon.
Assists from the centre of midfield have been something the Gunners have lacked in recent seasons, a situation which will be made worse when Fabregas, who made 14 league assists (the third highest in the Premier League), inevitably leaves for FC Barcelona.
While the likes of Andrei Arshavin and Gervinho can provide assists from the wings, Arsenal also need an option from midfield, something which Joey Barton is more than able to provide, especially considering he also made the fourth highest amount of key passes per game last season in the league, making a total of 81 key passes, or 2.53 per match.
Never would anyone think two years ago that Joey Barton and "discipline" could be discussed positively in the same sentence.
A season in the Championship and a stand-out Premier League campaign later, the no-nonsense midfielder is a new man, and a player with a newfound ability to stay remarkably cool in heated situations.
Such discipline from Barton is something which could help the rest of Arsenal's midfield greatly, considering Jack Wilshere's fiery temper and Abou Diaby's episode in that 4-4 draw at St. James' Park.
And discipline in the central midfield is something Arsene Wenger needs to work on, with Wilshere, Diaby and Alex Song all getting sent off for the Gunners at some point last season.
Character in the Dressing Room
One thing Arsenal appear to have lacked these last few trophy-drought seasons is a real character in the squad, a big personality to give the team the right attitude and approach to matches.
Chelsea have it with the likes of John Terry and Frank Lampard, as do Liverpool with Jamie Carragher and Steven Gerrard, as well as Manchester United with Rio Ferdinand and Wayne Rooney and Tottenham Hotspur with Ledley King, Michael Dawson, etc.
The Gunners, however, have no such players, with Cesc Fabregas the only real player who comes across as a leader.
Joey Barton is such a player, a no-nonsense, straight-talking character who speaks his mind, and always displays a dogged determination which has seen him become a stand-out player for Newcastle in recent times.
If only Arsenal had someone like Barton in their team last season, one can't help but think they would've easily won the League Cup, and in the words of his agent, could've won the Gunners the Premier League title.
During both of Arsenal's lacklustre showings at the Emirates Cup, one thing Arsene Wenger's men lacked more than anything was a real leader.
The absence of Cesc Fabregas had a big impact on the Gunners, with no captain figure directing and motivating the team.
Even when Fabregas is playing, his lead-by-example style doesn't work effectively against the more robust opponents, with their defensive, physical style of play.
Joey Barton is exactly the type of leader Arsenal need, a communicator on the pitch with the proven ability to motivate his teammates and help them keep their cool in the more frustrating situations against physically tough teams like Stoke City, Blackburn Rovers, etc.
The Gunners haven't had such a player since Patrick Vieria left, which has coincided with their six-season trophy drought.
After his tackles on Xabi Alonso and Dickson Etuhu amongst others, Joey Barton's tackling has been very well-documented.
However, it's the midfielder's tough-tackling approach which has seen him do so well for Newcastle, with the steel-edge to his game that intimidates opponents.
And last season in the Premier League, Barton won 64 tackles, an average of 2.5 per game, a statistic which is only beaten by Alex Song, who won 79 tackles and an average 2.6 per game.
No other Arsenal player won over 50 tackles in the 2010/11 campaign, a major reason why they conceded 43 league goals, 10 more than Chelsea and Manchester City and six more than Manchester United.
Should Joey Barton sign for Arsenal, the Gunners would undoubtedly become a much tighter unit defensively and would have a greater chance of finally ending their six-year wait for a major trophy.