Barton committed to Newcastle
Joey Barton has reiterated his desire to stay at Newcastle as captain Kevin Nolan heads out of St James' Park. Midfielder Barton, 28, was stunned to discover last month that he would not be offered a contract extension following unsuccessful talks in January. That means he could leave on a free transfer next summer if he is not sold beforehand.
However, as he came to terms with Nolan's switch to West Ham, which is set to be completed tomorrow, Barton remained adamant he wants to stay at St James' Park and play for manager Alan Pardew's team.
Speaking to Sky Sports at Royal Ascot, Barton said: "I love the football club, without a shadow of a doubt, everyone knows that. I have got a great working relationship with the manager and a lot of the other players, a few of the senior players who have been there through the ups and downs, the likes of myself, Kevin Nolan, Steve Harper, Smudger [Alan Smith] and a couple of others I haven't named.
"It's a difficult situation. I totally understand the club's point of view, but on the flip-side of it, it's hard for me to get drawn into it. I am an employee of the football club and I have got to go back and do a job in the summer."
"As far as I know, I will go back to Newcastle United and play until my contract runs out and they tell me I am no longer needed. I have got no ambitions to leave the football club, I don't want to leave the football club. I would love nothing more so than to win a trophy at Newcastle, the same way as a number of players. Whether I get the opportunity to do that is out of my hands."
Barton's comments came as he, his team-mates and the club's fans came to terms with the news that Nolan, also 28, was undergoing a medical at West Ham after the clubs agreed an undisclosed fee. A £1.5million offer the Hammers tabled last week had been dismissed as "derisory", but Sam Allardyce returned with a bid which opened the door for a reunion with his former Bolton midfielder.
Nolan, a £4million signing in January 2009, has been a key figure in Newcastle's resurgence in the wake of relegation, and was the club's leading scorer with 12 goals last season after reaching double figures in the Premier League for the first time in his career. But his role as a unifying force in the dressing room has been equally important, and Pardew had hoped to tie him up beyond the confines of the remaining two years of his existing deal.
Talks broke down last week with Nolan and the club a significant distance apart and owner Mike Ashley unwilling to sanction a long-term deal, although sources close to the player have insisted there was room for manoeuvre.
Barton's immediate response via Twitter was one of disappointment, and suggested he, full-back Jose Enrique and winger Jonas Gutierrez could soon follow Nolan out of the club. He wrote, "Just on my way to Ascot, feel sick", before adding, "Great player, leader, captain, person, trainer and mostly a friend for life. Devastated to see him SOLD", adding the hashtag "#mejoseandjonasnext".
Barton was more diplomatic in front of the cameras, but voiced his hope that the Hammers deal would fall through. He said: "Obviously, it would be a great disappointment to lose Kev. He's a great pal and I think he has done fantastically for the football club. But this is the game were are in, unfortunately. Sometimes it is a little bit like ships in the night.
"Me and Kevin will remain great friends beyond the boundaries of football for the rest of our lives, most probably, just with the experiences we have shared at the football club. Hopefully, the move breaks down, but if it doesn't, you have got to believe in the process of the football club, and no one player is bigger than the football club."
Asked if he felt Newcastle are moving in the right direction under Ashley, managing director Derek Llambias and Pardew, Barton said: "Time will be the telling of that, really. It's easy for me to sit here and say, 'I don't agree with this, I don't agree with that', but they could be doing the best moves ever and only in a year's time or 18 months' time will we know that."