Joey Barton vs Arsene Wenger’s Arsenal – A Club he almost Signed For.
Controversial English midfielder Joey Barton, made a goalscoring return to Burnley and the Premier League with his late winner against Southampton and he’s now set for another reunion this weekend.
He has history with Arsene Wenger and Arsenal too. There have been the rucks and the red cards, the goals and the goading. The transfer to the Gunners? Well, that never quite happened. But it is a story that dates back over a decade.
Here’s Sky Sports timeline of Barton and Wenger’s love-hate relationship…
Interest in 2006
Barton made his first appearance against Arsenal as a Manchester City player in 2003 and lost five of his first six games against the Gunners, drawing the other.
But a winner from the penalty spot in August 2006 came in the aftermath of reported interest from Wenger with Barton having put in a transfer request at the start of the year.
Wenger was looking for a long-term replacement for Patrick Vieira at the time and Barton’s name was among those touted as a potential candidate.
Wenger appeared to acknowledge that the-then 23-year-old midfielder was a candidate. He told Sky Sports..
“I like Joey Barton. But, you know, I don’t want to interfere with that publicly. He has been negotiating with his own club so I do not want to interfere with that.”
Red cards in 2011
Barton eventually signed a contract extension before moving to Newcastle United where he enjoyed some memorable tussles with Arsenal once more.
He even scored twice – the only occasion that has happened in his professional career – as the Magpies came back from four goals down to draw 4-4 against Arsenal at St James’ Park in February 2011.
Abou Diaby was sent off in that game for retaliating to a Barton challenge and there was more drama when the teams met later that year.
Firstly, Alex Song appeared to stamp on Barton and when the Newcastle man hauled Gervinho to his feet later in the game he received a slap before promptly going to ground.
Following Gervinho’s red card, Barton admitted….
“I went down easy, no doubt, I was merely highlighting he struck me. What do people want me to do, stand and trade blows?
“If you raise your hands to players faces, you should be off. My job is to do the best for my team, not to keep Gervinho on the pitch. There’s more to football than kicking a ball.”
But Wenger was unimpressed with Barton’s behaviour in both that game and the earlier clash with Diaby the previous season.
“There is a link between the two incidents, He gets away with it. That’s the link. Last year he got a yellow card, this year he got a yellow card.”
“I don’t want to comment too much because it brings no credit to the Premier League. You know as well as I know that he has not been hit hard enough to lie down for two minutes.”
Barton subsequently apologised but it later emerged that his actions may have scuppered a surprise move to Arsenal. He was on the transfer list at the time and there was interest from Wenger.
“I signed for QPR on the rebound from Arsenal,” claimed Barton in his 2016 autobiography No Nonsense.
“Pat Rice, Arsene Wenger’s assistant, had told Peter Kay (the co-founder of Sporting Chance and Barton’s mentor) they fancied me. A meeting with me was in the manager’s diary for the first Tuesday of the new season.
“He had the perfect opportunity to monitor my form three days before that, in what was to be my penultimate appearance for Newcastle, a goalless draw against his team at St James’ Park.
“Maybe word of my potential move had filtered through to the away dressing room. They queued up to have a dig, and referee Peter Walton missed Alex Song’s stamp on me.Barton has beaten Arsenal three times in 18 appearances against them
“If there was to be no red carpet, I made sure there was going to be a red card by going down like a sack of spuds when Gervinho slapped me. His outrage, on being sent off, was worth my booking.
“Rice sent Pete a text soon after: ‘Arsene says Joey will never play for this club’.”
Wenger, for his part, had playfully suggested that signing Barton was a possibility even after the 2011 incidents.
“I like the courage of the player,” he told reporters. “Nobody dismisses signing Joey Barton but I don’t think we envisage doing that at the moment.
“He’s a good player. Sometimes there’s trouble with his temper but he’s a great player. Maybe the way to sort Barton out is to sign him. Maybe that’s the solution.”
Barton’s spells on the sidelines, in the Championship and in Wenger’s native France with Marseille, have limited the meetings between the pair since then.
However, that has not stopped the player directing the occasional criticism at the man who might have been his manager.
Barton’s damning verdict on Wenger’s tactical acumen when speaking in 2014;
“Other managers have him on toast,”
But Arsenal did have enough about them to beat Barton’s Burnley when they met in the FA Cup last season, leaving Wenger with 11 wins out of 18 against the player.
via Sky Sports.