NEWCASTLE United will look to recruit Switzerland winger Tranquillo Barnetta to replace Joey Barton, who they sensationally made available on a free transfer after one too many run-ins with the St James' Park board.
On another turbulent day on Tyneside, Barton was informed that the club would be listening to offers for him after they wiped out their asking price to entice potential suitors.
So far this summer they have not had a single enquiry about the midfielder but on a free transfer, the club anticipate interest.
Stoke City, Aston Villa and Arsenal have all been linked with the player – while The Journal has been told that Wolves may consider an approach for him.
It is a messy way for Barton’s Newcastle career to end but it was also inevitable too, coming on the back of seven months of antipathy between the midfielder and the board.
They were angered by him reneging on an agreement over a new contract and his public criticisms after they had stood by him – while Barton felt they lacked football knowledge and ambition following the departures of Andy Carroll and Kevin Nolan.
The move is certain to force United back into the transfer market and a move has been lined up for Bayer Leverkusen’s Barnetta – a long-term Newcastle target.
The Magpies had a scout at Wembley to watch him score a brace as Switzerland held England in a Euro 2012 qualifier back in June.
United’s drastic action came after a short meeting yesterday morning to discuss Barton’s latest attack on the board via his Twitter account.
Also taken into account was a furious address from Barton to his team-mates in the Elland Road dressing room following the disappointing 3-2 defeat to Leeds on Sunday.
Barton’s agent Willie McKay said that the player had been angered by the decision to pass dead-ball duties to Yohan Cabaye, while being overlooked for the captain’s armband was another bone of contention.
The outspoken McKay also claimed that boss Alan Pardew was not taking the
decisions at Newcastle. He told a national radio station: “I think (Joey) gets on okay with Alan Pardew but does he make the decisions? I don’t think he does.
“If you’re appointed the manager of the club you need to get to the people above you and say, ‘We need to keep this guy’.”
McKay launched a staunch defence of his client’s ability and conduct and said he couldn’t work out why Newcastle were letting him leave on a free transfer.
“It is Joey’s choice. What he wants to Tweet, he will Tweet. He gave the club 120% on the pitch and we know how he feels about the club.
“It is their club to do what they see fit with – but I’m just a bit surprised they had done this.
“Joey has got passion in abundance. That’s why you will see clubs with foreign players looking for a bit of balls in their team buying Joey.”
Asked whether Barton might be playing Champions League football next season, McKay replied: “I think he could be.”
The midfielder had sent United hearts aflutter yesterday morning by promising an update at 4pm on his Twitter account, but in the event the club beat him to the punch.
Still, the midfielder posted the following an hour after the announcement: “Somewhere in those high echelons of NUFC, they have decided, I am persona non grata.
“I am on a free but the honour of wearing those B+W stripes, surpasses that.
“One day the board might realise, what the shirt signifies. HONOUR and PRIDE. Thanks for your continued support........... #toonarmy.”