Forget about Gareth Bale and Real Madrid, forget about Jose Mourinho’s return, Luis Suarez’s tantrums and United’s first season without Fergie, one of the stories of the season could be developing on the blue half of Merseyside.
Having come to an end of an era themselves, with David Moyes moving east on the East Lancs Road, Everton prepare themselves for their first season under Roberto Martinez, a manager who’s built his career around poise and charm as well a brand of football easy on the eye.
It seems therefore fitting that Everton have been approached by a player who, throughout his career, has been described as a “thug”, a “lunatic”, a “loose cannon” and, well, you get the drift.
Joey Barton might or might not end up playing in the blue of his beloved Everton, but the simple thought of the controversial midfielder returning to the English top-flight has had people either salivating at the prospect, or in need of a lie down.
Like with any other player, a transfer would have its positives and its negatives, but in Barton’s case the latter might outweigh the former.
1) Like him or loathe him, Barton has some good qualities about him. For a start, the midfielder has plenty of Premier League experience, having appeared 217 time in the top-flight, which could make him an appealing signing for a team willing to take a gamble on price-cut midfielder.
2) According to reports, Barton would be willing to halve his salary to around £35,000-a-week in order to facilitate his move to Goodison Park, which would make him look like a risk worth taking for Everton boss Roberto Martinez.
3)Despite his sizeable bags of controversies, Barton is clearly too good to be playing in the Championship and doubts persist over whether QPR would be prepared to welcome their former captain with open arms.
4)Everton were Barton’s first club, the one in which he moved his first steps in youth football, before joining local rivals Liverpool, and the 30-year-old has never hidden his feelings for the blue half of Merseyside. Should he move to Goodison Park, the Huyton-born midfielder could benefit from living in a familiar environment.
5)Everton might well be Barton’s last chance in the top-flight.
1)Violent conduct on and off the pitch, more or less blatant insults via Twitter make the former Newcastle and Manchester City player a marked man in English football, a problem Roberto Martinez might not deem required in his first season at Goodison Park.
2)During his Premier League career, Barton has made few friends among referees and even less among fellow professionals and, should he return to the top-flight, opponents would undoubtedly target him. Would Roberto Martinez consider him a risk worth-taking and would he manage to control Barton’s self destructive instincts?
3)Barton might be too good to play in the Championship, but is he good enough to play for Everton? After consistently finishing in the top half of the table and flirting with European qualification under David Moyes, the Toffees are hoping to push even further up the table, would Barton be a good signing or would he better suited to a smaller club?
4)In theory at least, QPR should be relieved to take a £70,000-a-week player off their books, but reality might a be a tad more complicated than that. The West Londoners could see Barton as a pivotal figure for their Championship campaign and, despite Barton’s claiming that he’d not return to Loftus Road and that he only joined the club as he needed money, they might decide to play hardball with the player.
5)Perhaps above everything else, Everton might not want to put themselves under the constant media scrutiny that Joey Barton seemingly carries with himself wherever he goes and could therefore decline the opportunity to sign him.
Would Joey Barton be a good signing for Everton or would he simply be a time-bomb waiting to go off? Could Roberto Martinez get the best out of the fiery midfielder? What other options does Barton have in the Premier League? Let us know your views below or get involved via our Twitter or Facebook!