Joey Barton to West Ham: Hammers consider signing 'vile' former QPR midfielder

Joey Barton was in talks with West Ham on Monday and could bolster their defensive midfield options

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The Independent Online

It is possible that the medium stripped it of all nuance, but West Ham United’s co-owner David Gold can never unsay or retract his pithy verdict on the man who may yet become his team’s next signing.

“Barton is vile” he said, in a question-and-answer session with fans on Twitter two years ago, before adding: “He should seek help.”

What Joey Barton is instead seeking is a contract at West Ham. Though it is untrue that the most divisive player in modern football (not even Mario Balotelli runs him close) was having a medical at Upton Park on Monday, there is interest on both sides in putting a deal together.

However magisterial his Premier League debut at Arsenal on Sunday, West Ham cannot rely on 16-year-old Reece Oxford in that protective midfield role. Signing Alex Song on a permanent basis had already become complicated before his recent ankle injury, and the nosedive in his form in the second half of last season cannot be ignored.

 

Barton, a free agent after leaving Queen’s Park Rangers at the end of last season, represents a solution of sorts, and possibly a desirably short-term one, but the idea has appalled many West Ham fans.

The exit of manager Sam Allardyce at the end of last campaign left many supporters hoping it might also hasten the departure of veteran midfielder Kevin Nolan.

Striker Andy Carroll remains immensely popular, but he also represents a problem, in that he is almost impossible to deploy in a system that plays in the way West Ham fans demand.

The reunification of the old Newcastle trio of Barton, Carroll and Nolan at West Ham bolsters a kind of axis that many at the club would hope is a thing of the past and not the future. The Hammers do not need the sort of headlines Barton usually attracts, but a solid mid-table finish and a stress-free welcoming of Premier League football to the Olympic Stadium next year.

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