Joey Barton has a detailed way of introducing himself on his personal website: ‘Footballer. Question Time guest. Philosophy student. Future coach. Fluent French speaker. What has become of me?’
Forgetting for a moment the diversity of his character, he poses an interesting question.
What has happened to Joey Barton? When will he resurface?
Joey Barton, in action for QPR last season, has worked hard on maintaining his fitness this summer
That’s not to say he has disappeared. With a Twitter account and mind as busy as his, Barton is never far away.
In the time since QPR announced he was one of six players being released upon relegation to the Championship, he has tweeted about football, rugby league, boxing, tennis, cycling, golf, athletics and the dangers of the recent doping revelations to the London 2012 legacy.
He has also stood up for Michael Owen’s commentary and jumped into the debate over John Stones’ transfer value. In doing so, he spared none of Eliaquim Mangala’s feelings.
He wrote: ‘Can’t see Everton selling at £20m in the current market. If Mangala was €38m last year, Stones must be at least that? No?’
On the Jose Mourinho-Arsene Wenger handshake debacle, he wrote: ‘Love big custard pie for Mourinho from Wenger? Proves Jose has got him on toast mentally that.’
Barton has never been one to conform to the boring expectation that footballers are seen and not heard.
The 32-year-old spent four years at Queens Park Rangers, which included a year on loan at Marseille
Barton was one of the few players who gave a good account of himself during QPR’s relegation last term
Clubs: Manchester City (2001-07), Newcastle (2007-2011), QPR (2011-15), loan to Marseille (2012-13)
Career appearances/goals: 329/29
Honours: Championship 2009-10 (Newcastle), Championship play-offs 2013-14 (QPR)
England caps: 1
But, regarding his status as a footballer, he did hit the nail on the head on Sunday when he wrote: ‘Community Shield. Signals the start of the season. Better get myself a club then…’
Barton is considering a return to France with Marseille, but would prefer to stay in the Premier League if an offer came his way.
It remains a curious aspect of this summer that Barton has not yet been signed up. At 32, and indeed less than a month from his 33rd birthday, he might not appear a long-term investment.
But his ability would surely fit in some Premier League sides and strengthen the majority in the Championship however a stumbling block could be the £70,000 a week wages he picked up during his spell at QPR.
And any questions about his engine should take into account that of his 27 Premier League starts last season, he played the full 90 minutes in 25 of them. Granted he had a run of bookings in seven straight games, but with Barton there should always be an acceptance that rough and smooth run together.
In his case, besides those bookings, he managed a goal from central midfield, had three assists, created 56 chances, had a passing accuracy of 73 per cent and won two thirds of his tackles. In such a poor team, the numbers, while not great, suggest he was among the few players making a positive impact on the side.
But it has been noticeable this summer that there has been barely even a whiff of speculation linking him to clubs. At one point, former Aston Villa manager John Gregory tweeted the Birmingham Mail to flag up Barton’s availability but the queue does not appear long.
On Wednesday Barton posted a picture in a Chiswick coffee shop in west London with his former QPR team-mate Ale Faurlin acting as Barista.
Seemingly staying in London for the time being, Barton captioned the picture of Faurlin, who has agreed a new one-year deal at Loftus Road, ‘As usual Ale Faurlin serving me my afternoon coffee…#whataguy.’
Barton posted this picture on Instagram last month working on his fitness as he still bids to find a new club
Joey Barton reveals his heavily calloused hand on Instagram after an intense workout in the gym last month
Barton himself has indicated that he has taken calls from clubs, but if progress is being made then it is being made extremely quietly.
His representative Mark McKay from ExcelFoot said: ‘He is a great free agent and we’re anticipating more enquiries over the coming days. He’s a proven Premier League player, a great competitor and very honest in his assessment of what he can offer.
‘We’ve got interest from France, obviously Marseille know him well, but there are still clubs in England who are considering him too.’
Perhaps his reputation and his incredible list of indiscretions and violence precedes him in the minds of managers. Perhaps those managers are making a mistake by turning their backs on a talented player who mostly likely has more to give before pursuing his own plans to manage.
He admitted in an interview recently that he has been exchanging emails with Jose Mourinho on the subject of leadership. He has also read more than a dozen books about it.
You would assume he still has more mileage as a leader on the pitch first.
CIGARS, JAIL AND BRAWLS: THE CONTROVERSIAL CAREER OF JOEY BARTON
July: Criticised by Manchester City manager Kevin Keegan after causing a brawl in a pre-season friendly at Doncaster.
December: Puts out a lit cigar in the eye of Jamie Tandy during City’s Christmas party. Fined six weeks’ wages and Tandy later sues Barton.
July: Clashes with a 15-year-old Everton fan at City’s team hotel in Bangkok during a tour. Fined eight weeks’ wages.
September – Drops his shorts in the direction of Everton fans following City’s 1-1 draw at Goodison Park. Merseyside Police investigate the matter.
May: Suspended by City after altercation with Ousmane Dabo at City training ground. Dabo needed hospital treatment and Barton was Charged with assault. On July 1, 2008 receives a four-month suspended jail sentence.
December: Arrested in Liverpool after a late-night incident and later charged with common assault and affray. Remanded in custody and misses Newcastle’s New Year fixtures.
May 20: Jailed for six months after admitting common assault and affray.
November Punched Morten Gamst Pedersen of Blackburn during a 2-1 defeat.
August: Transfer-listed by Newcastle Barton after a series of Tweets criticising the club.
January: Calls the FA an ‘Orwellian organisation’.
May: After his final-day red card against Manchester City, Barton tells Gary Lineker: ‘back under your stone you odious little toad…’
May: The French Football Federation give the Marseille midfielder a two-game suspended ban for calling PSG defender Thiago Silva an ‘overweight ladyboy’ on Twitter.