Newcastle United have effectively put midfielder Joey Barton up for sale on the same day that they released the veteran defender Sol Campbell.
In a move that will perturb fans who were dismayed by the £35m sale of Andy Carroll in January, it has emerged that Barton, who was one of the mainstays of the side that just finished 12th in their first season back in the Premier League, will not be offered a new contract by Newcastle.
Yesterday, Barton's agent, Willie McKay, said: "I had a meeting with Newcastle managing director Derek Llambias and club secretary Lee Charnley and they have indicated Joey will not be offered a new contract. Joey will continue to be a Newcastle player next season and then he will leave on a free transfer at the end of his contract.
"Joey would have loved to have extended his stay at Newcastle, but unfortunately it is not to be," McKay added. "Joey has loved his time at Newcastle and nothing will change his commitment for the club next season. Obviously, we will be monitoring the situation next January to try and find a new club for Joey as he can speak to clubs from abroad in January."
Former manager Sam Allardyce paid £5.8m to bring Barton to St James' Park from Manchester City four years ago and if Newcastle wish to recoup any of that transfer fee on the 28-year-old they will have to sell him this summer. After a poor start with the club, including a spell in prison after being found guilty of assault in 2008, Barton finally proved his worth this season as, against widespread expectations, Newcastle comfortably maintained their Premier League status.
Manager Alan Pardew still has the Carroll transfer fee to spend on reinforcing Newcastle's squad but, with left-back Jose Enrique being strongly linked with a move to Liverpool and captain Kevin Nolan yet to agree a new contract, he could be forced to engage in some rapid rebuilding.
One player who is not in his plans is Campbell, who was signed by previous manager Chris Hughton last July. The veteran former Tottenham, Arsenal and England centre-half started only one game this year, the 4-0 defeat at Stoke in March, and will not have his contract with Newcastle renewed.
Pardew said: "Sol's gone and good luck to him. He has been an icon in the game, but he didn't feature too much here."
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