ALAN Pardew will be left with an expensive headache if Joey Barton is sold by Newcastle United, according to Mick Martin.
Barton’s agent, Willie McKay, yesterday revealed he had been told the midfielder wouldn’t be offered a new deal at the club.
And Newcastle’s hierarchy will now look to sell Barton this summer, with Aston Villa, Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur among the clubs said to be monitoring his situation.
But McKay also insisted Barton would resist any attempt to move him on – unless it was to a “top club – and see out the remaining 12 months of his contract at St James’s Park.
Barton was outstanding in United’s first season back in the Premier League, and manager Alan Pardew had made securing his servives beyond next year one one of his top summer priorities, such was his unwillingness to part with the 28-year-old.
However, the decision, according to McKay, was taken at board level.
And former Newcastle midfielder Martin has been left baffled by the development, which has angered many supporters given Barton’s contribution to the cause over the past two seasons.
“From what I gather from Joey, he’s happy to stay at Newcastle,” said Martin.
“He loves playing in front of 50,000 fans, and in the last couple of years he’s made a big improvement to the way he lives his life and approaches the game.
“Obviously, if he does have to look elsewhere, I don’t think there will be a shortage of teams in England who would like him.
“I watch a bit of Spanish football and the Italian stuff, but England is the best league to play in, and I think that’s where he will stay – with or without Newcastle.”
Finding a replacement for Barton – who has overcome the injury and off-the-field problems which dogged his early United career to rediscover the form which once earned him an England call – would be a unenviable task.
Pardew already needs to add several new faces to his squad, and Martin doesn’t think the decision not to offer Barton a new deal makes sense financial sense, as a replacement could well cost more than any fee banked from his sale.
What’s more, Martin feels it would “lie uncomfortably” with Pardew, who drew criticism for sanctioning Andy Carroll’s controversial January sale to Liverpool.
“I don’t know what the figures are, but Joey has been an important player this season and towards the end of last year when the club won promotion,” Martin went on.
“He stayed after relegation and the fans recognised that. It’s surprising to see him in this position given his popularity with the fans, but he earned that popularity with some great performances.
“For me, Joey would be worth giving a new contract and then moving on. I’m sure if Joey went it would lie uncomfortably with Alan Pardew.
“It is up to him to say to Mike Ashley that he wants Joey to stay and help take the club forward.
“If he does go, you’re then faced with the task of finding somebody to replace him on good, if not more, money than him.”
Meanwhile, McKay told Radio Newcastle’s Total Sport last night that Barton – who was offered a new contract in January, though this has since been withdraw – was looking for a four-year deal.
“We had talks in January, and Joey was prepared to take a drop in wages, but we couldn’t agree, and left it,” said McKay.
“I had a meeting (yesterday), and there was no offer on the table. He wanted a four year contract on less money, but was offered nothing.
“I think that the only way Joey will stay at Newcastle (beyond 2012) is if there are new owners. I don’t think there’s a problem with the manager – the decision seems to have been taken above Alan Pardew.
“Since the news came out, I’ve had a few calls from managers wanting to know the situation. He’d only consider going to a top club, but at this minute in time, Joey has his mind set on staying at Newcastle next season.”