Wright-Phillips deal persuades Barton to extend contract

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The Independent Football

Joey Barton has committed his long-term future to Manchester City because the prospect of playing with Shaun Wright-Phillips for the next three years was too good to turn down.

A month after Wright-Phillips agreed a four-year contract with City, Barton has given the club a further boost by signing a new three-year deal. It means City have tied down their two most promising youngsters for an extended period, giving them a solid base to work from even after the manager Kevin Keegan's own contract expires in 2006.

The pair proved their value against Barnsley on Tuesday night, with Barton hitting the first goal in a 7-1 win to which Wright-Phillips also contributed one goal and five assists.

Both capped by England at Under-21 level, Barton is now looking to follow his team-mate into Sven Goran Eriksson's senior squad. He admitted Wright-Phillips' decision to stay at City was a major factor in him opting to follow suit.

"Wrighty has become a legend here already and he deserves everything he gets for what he has done," Barton said. "Now I am looking forward to playing with him for the next three years.

"One of the reasons I wanted to stay was that I would continue to have the chance of playing with him. We have some good young players here and senior ones too who want to prove something. Hopefully we can string some results together and climb this League table."

Barton has become an integral part of the City squad, even though he made his debut less than two years ago in a 2-0 defeat at Bolton. The Liverpudlian's whole-hearted style has made him popular with supporters, although the 22-year-old has not always found favour with Keegan and their relationship has often been tempestuous.

Keegan delivered a public rebuke to the youngster when he stormed out of the ground in April after learning he was not going to be involved in the home game with Southampton.

Despite this, Barton, who is almost certain to keep his place in the City side for Saturday's visit of Arsenal in the Premiership, had no hesitation in signing his new contract, even though Charlton had expressed a firm interest in signing him during the summer.

"There was speculation that I would move from this club but I have stated that I want to stay here and be part of a successful Manchester City," he said. "My agent was at the club on Tuesday morning and as soon as he told me he had a deal I put pen to paper in the afternoon.

"I just wanted to stay here and play football. If I can stay in the team and enjoy it, then I will stay here for the rest of my career.

"I have no reason to leave," he added. "I love it here and don't want to go anywhere else. The new deal will take me up to the age of 24 when we will assess the situation again."

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