Belfast Telegraph

Manchester United mull Joey Barton move

By David McNeill

Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson is considering a sensational swoop for Newcastle United bad boy Joey Barton.

Barton's representatives are understood to have been in contact with United’s coaching staff — and have discussed the possibility of signing the Toon midfielder on a free transfer.

Ferguson would like Liverpudlian Barton as a back-up for Darren Fletcher, who has been plagued by injuries recently.

The release of injury-prone Owen Hargreaves means United, who are busy preparing for tomorrow’s Community Shield curtain-raiser against Man City at Wembley, are short of strong-arm midfield men.

The fact that Barton is free clearly appeals to United, but the controversial 29-year-old would not want to be regarded merely as a squad player at Old Trafford.

Cocky Barton believes he’s good enough to play in a Champions League-chasing team and with Arsenal, Tottenham and Manchester City all watching developments, they clearly think so too.

His Toon wages of £65,000 a week are likely to scare off Stoke and Celtic, the other clubs interested in signing him.

Ferguson has no fear about signing players with questionable reputations, exemplified by his shock recruitment of Eric Cantona back in 1992.

Signing the mercurial Frenchman from Leeds was the catalyst for Fergie bagging his first English title.

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