NEWCASTLE United have opened negotiations with Tranquillo Barnetta as they look to move on swiftly from the Joey Barton Twitter controversy.
On a day when the errant midfielder mischievously hinted on social networking site Twitter that he could defiantly remain at St James’ Park if the mood takes him, The Journal understands that United have stepped up their interest in Switzerland winger Barnetta.
Unlike the failed deals for Mevlut Erdinc, Kevin Gameiro and Gervinho, the player himself is keen to join Newcastle – and if a fee can be agreed with Bayer Leverkusen, the transfer could be completed within a matter of days.
That would surely seal the fate of Barton, whose agent Willie McKay claimed the player was in negotiations with a club in the North West yesterday.
Several Premier League clubs have distanced themselves from a move for the player, though, who has considerable baggage and whose Twitter missives have not gone down well with several interested parties.
Celtic, Aston Villa, Stoke and Arsenal have been credited with an interest and are free to talk to Barton without Newcastle’s permission after he was made available for transfer.
What is certain is that Newcastle’s long-term interest in Barnetta is moving on apace after the deal went cold earlier in the summer.
He is one of a handful of Continental targets being considered by the board as they look to emerge from a tough week by winning some credit back.
It has been a busy and tumultuous seven days at St James’ Park where the
club has been engulfed by a familiar feeling of pessimism and fan unrest following the developments with Barton.
With Jose Enrique also heading for the exit door – although a fee has not been agreed with Liverpool yet – the squad is looking weaker than it did at the start of the summer, which is unthinkable given the club’s previous assurances that they would spend the Andy Carroll transfer window on boosting player resources.
But The Journal understands that further reinforcements will be recruited before the end of the window.
Another intriguing possibility is the arrival of England goalkeeper Rob Green from West Ham in a deal which may see Fraser Forster move in the opposite direction.
Alan Pardew – a former Upton Park manager – is a big fan of the Hammers stopper, and while some reservations have been expressed about bringing in another goalkeeper when United already have three, the Magpies boss is under-stood to be pressing for a deal which would see an England inter-national arrive at the club.
While Newcastle will be bringing in reinforcements before the end of the transfer window, Erdinc will not be joining from Paris Saint Germain. The Magpies have called time on that deal after it became fraught with problems.
A fall out with his agent and an inability to agree terms after initially being given positive signs by the player, have meant that United are no longer pursuing the Turkey striker.
Newcastle also have no interest in Shane Long at this stage, despite some glowing reports from United staff members who have watched him in action for Ireland recently. The Reading striker is the subject of interest from Leicester.
Pardew is this afternoon due to talk to the media for the first time since the Barton controversy blew up, but the club are determined not to engage in a war of words with the player, fined two weeks’ wages for his criticisms of the board.
He is free to leave for no fee but took to Twitter yesterday to claim he may stay – in among posting quotes from former American President George Washington.
Barton, who was in London yesterday, posted: “Just because ur [sic] told to jump, it does not necessarily mean u have to. I may choose to stand perfectly still. It's my right...just a thought.”