JOEY Barton is ready to dig his heels in and see out the final 12 months of his Newcastle contract after negotiations on a new deal broke down in acrimonious fashion.
The player’s agent Willie McKay broke ranks yesterday after the club refused to offer the midfielder a new deal – writing off the chances of resurrecting contract talks unless the club is taken over by new owners.
But despite immediate interest from a clutch of Premier League clubs after Barton’s contract situation became public, McKay says that the midfielder has absolutely no intention of leaving St James’ Park before his current deal runs out next summer.
That bullish stance leaves United in a difficult position as they will be desperate to cash in on Barton – who has attracted interest from Aston Villa over the past six months. But if Barton refuses to do a deal, they will be left with a player who will be able to leave for free in a year.
There will also be concern about how a volatile figure, who has clashed with the United hierarchy over their unwillingness to consider a long-term deal for him and their stance towards older players, will react to the news the club essentially don’t want to keep him.
With Newcastle last night maintaining their silence, McKay spoke publicly about Barton’s stance on national radio.
He said: “We left it, both parties, that we would discuss it at the end of the season. I got a call to come up at the end of the season and I fully expected them to come up with some sort of offer; they never did.
“That’s where we stand at the minute. It was a very short meeting actually. But it was a long drive up and a long drive down.
“At the end of the day, Joey is very strong-minded and very confident in his own ability. I’ve had a few other calls from other clubs after the news came on that everybody knows about.
“I’ve had a few managers on asking what the situation is about Joey, but only if a top club came in would he move in. I think he’s made his mind up to stay at Newcastle until the end of next season.
“Any club would have to arrange a transfer fee, but at this minute in time Joey has made up his mind to stay at Newcastle because he loves it up there.
“He’s settled. He’s playing very, very well and hopefully can break into the England team at some stage.”
The situation is messy for Newcastle and especially manager Alan Pardew – who is desperate to keep hold of the midfielder.
Twice this year Barton has come close to signing a new deal worth less overall that his previous contract.
However, a major row over the length of the contract has erupted – and there looks to be no way back.
Barton will also be disappointed too, after finding a club where the manager and supporters appreciate him and are happy to put up with his sometimes abrasive temperament. He has repaid them in kind with some of the best performances of his career.
The impasse will continue, McKay says, unless a new regime takes over at St James’ Park.
“Obviously, they’ll be in the situation where they’ll be looking for somebody to come in for Joey if they’re not offering him a contract,” the agent added.
“But it would need to be the right club and Joey is quite strong-minded – I think he’ll stay at Newcastle for next season.
“The only way Joey will stay (after that year) at Newcastle, I think, is if there are new owners, to be perfectly honest.”
Meanwhile, the club confirmed yesterday that Sol Campbell and Shefki Kuqi have left the club.