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Tuesday, January 31, 2006
Barton unyielding over transfer request

Unrepentant Joey Barton is preparing to face down Manchester City's irate fans at Eastlands after branding the club's 28,000-a-week contract offer 'unacceptable'.

The fiery 23-year-old stunned City by slapping in a transfer request late last night, drawing a furious reaction from Blues supporters just a fortnight after claiming an ambition to one day captain the club.

City boss Stuart Pearce, while understandably annoyed at the actions of a player who has twice come perilously close to being sacked over the past 14 months, attempted to play down the row, which erupted because of the club's refusal to increase their new double-your-money contract offer.

But, rather than accept Pearce's conciliatory tone, Barton has instead fuelled the row, even though, with the transfer deadline closing, he will be forced to spend the rest of the season at Eastlands.

'I have rejected an offer from the club I deem to be unacceptable,' he said.

'If Manchester City had offered the contract I asked for, which I consider not to be an unreasonable amount - just an amount that would have put me in line with the top earners at the club - then I would have had to consider my options.

'As it was, Manchester City did not make that offer. I was told this was the final offer and to take it or leave it. I told them I would leave it - and would like to be placed on the transfer list.'

The comments are astonishing given his fellow Liverpudlian Robbie Fowler was the highest paid player on City's books at 35,000-a-week until his return to Anfield last Friday.

Barton also seems to have badly misjudged the timing of his outburst given the impossibility of him now moving before the end of the season.

Pearce has already warned the midfielder he will not be spared the wrath of the home fans when City take on Newcastle tomorrow night, claiming, with a heavy hint of irony, Barton must have taken that factor into account when he made his decision to go public with his current unrest.

'I see no reason why he should not be in the squad tomorrow,' said Pearce.

'I am sure Joey and his advisor thought about the fans' reaction before they decided to go public with his transfer request.

'We would not have done so, purely because of what it might create.

'We have always said we would make the right decisions for Manchester City, because the club is bigger than any individual.

'If Joey doesn't play against Newcastle, do I leave him out against Everton, Charlton and the games after that?'

When Barton made his demand for a move last night, it was assumed the Huyton-born star had at least the possibility of having somewhere to go.

As it was, the only faint interest on deadline-day came from Middlesbrough, which was quickly rebuffed.

Arsenal remain the most likely option for a player who is desperate to share the same Champions League stage as close friend Steven Gerrard but, although a Barton fan, Arsene Wenger is by no means sure of making a bid even in the summer.

It means an uneasy end to the season for Barton, who, until yesterday, was still feted by City fans despite being fined six weeks' wages for stubbing a cigar out in the eye of team-mate Jamie Tandy on the club's 2004 Christmas party and then being sent home in disgrace from City's pre-season tour of Thailand after becoming involved in a bar-room altercation with a teenage Everton fan.

'Given what has happened in the past, I don't think I would have put a transfer request in if I had been Joey and I have told him that,' said Pearce.

'I am most disappointed for the fans and the chairman because they stuck by him before I became manager.'

However, Barton appears determined to stick it out, insisting a move - whenever it comes - would be best for everyone concerned.

'I would like nothing more than to be successful at Manchester City - but I don't have that option at the moment,' said Barton, whose present contract still has 18 months to run.

'Talks have ceased and I have decided to go on the transfer list so the club can still obtain a sizeable transfer fee for me.

'I feel this is best for all parties instead of leaving on a Bosman at the end of my contract.'




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