He has developed a fondness for Nietzsche, believes British troops should be brought home from Afghanistan, prefers David to Ed Miliband, spent this summer at Wimbledon and Glastonbury, and spent yesterday morning training on his own at Darsley Park, Newcastle United's training ground. Welcome to the world of Joey Barton, the most controversial yet intriguing English footballer of the moment.
Having been made available on a free transfer by Newcastle on Monday, amid claims of another dressing-room outburst, Barton found himself banished from the first-team squad yesterday and fined two weeks' wages, over which he intends to appeal. "Made to train alone today, how predictable," he tweeted. That Newcastle are in such a rush to rid themselves of their best player – they did not win a league game last season in which he was not involved – sums up the difficulties of dealing with such a peculiar character.
Barton likes to quote Virgil, Nietzsche, Orwell, Aristotle and others via his Twitter account, but it is the old Churchill line about riddles, mysteries and enigmas that perhaps best wraps up the 28-year-old from Huyton, Liverpool, "the son of a roofer and the grandson of a roofer".
He will have no trouble in finding another employer, with Tottenham and Aston Villa leading the hunt for the self-proclaimed best English midfielder in the Premier League. Wherever he goes, after Manchester City and Newcastle it will be his third club in nine years – five at City, four in the North-east – and by today's standards that is a healthy length of service. But then he has departed each amid rancour; again with Barton it is a case of mixed messages.
On the field he remains combustible. Relations with Derek Llambias, Newcastle's MD, have broken down and the post-match eruption following a friendly defeat at Leeds United on Sunday made minds up once and for all at St James' Park.
Newcastle may be relieved to rid themselves of this troublesome dressing-room preacher, but someone will be more than happy to have him.
"I was a complete bell**d at times. No doubt about it. No denial of that......but I've grown and changed considerably as a man"
"Its a British trait to be embarrassed by sounding too positive, we are not aware of our own self worth as a democratic society. Embrace it"
"Why are British troops in conflict zones risking their lives, on America's behalf? Supporting a fascist regimes ideologies? Bring them home."
"You must have chaos within you to give birth to a dancing star. #Nietzsche"Reuse content