2 Aug 2011

Barton free to leave Newcastle

6:01 am on 2 August 2011

The Newcastle midfielder Joey Barton has been told he can leave the English Premier League team on a free transfer after his stormy relationship with the football club finally reached breaking point.

Barton was already unhappy with Newcastle's decision to allow captain Kevin Nolan to join West Ham during the close-season and his mood wasn't improved by the recent breakdown of talks over a new contract.

The 28-year-old showed his frustrations with Newcastle owner Mike Ashley and the club's directors with a series of angry Twitter posts.

Writing after Sunday's 3-2 friendly defeat at Leeds, Barton claimed another Tweet from Newcastle teammate Jose Enrique, which led to the Spaniard being fined after he accused the club of lacking ambition, was typical of the unhappy atmosphere among the players.

He then claimed he would make an announcement about his future on Twitter on Tuesday but Newcastle pre-empted that move by announcing Barton will be placed on the transfer list and allowed to leave for free a year before the end of his contract.

Manchester United and Arsenal have both been linked with moves for Barton during the close-season and there is likely to be a scramble for the 28-year-old's services involving a host of top-flight teams despite his often-controversial actions.

Barton has never been far from the spotlight at Newcastle following his move from Manchester City in June 2007.

Shortly after his transfer, he served a 77-day prison sentence after being found guilty of assault following an incident in Liverpool.

Barton was also given a suspended four-month sentence for a training ground assault on then City team-mate Ousmane Dabo, which earned him a six-match ban upon his release from jail.

He was briefly suspended by the club after a clash with interim manager Alan Shearer as Newcastle were relegated in 2009, but resolved his differences and helped the Magpies win promotion from the Championship under new boss Chris Hughton.