Joey Barton was undergoing a medical ahead of a proposed move to Queens Park Rangers on Wednesday night after Newcastle United made it clear they were not prepared to do a U-turn and offer him a new contract at St James' Park.
The midfielder, available on a free transfer but with one year remaining on his contract at Newcastle, had hoped that the QPR manager Neil Warnock's move would force a change of heart in the Tyneside club's boardroom. But Mike Ashley, Newcastle's owner, and Derek Llambias, the managing director, still feel that Barton has burned his bridges after refusing to sign a contract extension offer last season and then criticising the club's transfer policy on Twitter this month.
That latter outburst saw him handed a free transfer. The former Manchester City midfielder, who earns close to £70,000 a week, initially maintained he would leave only for a "top team", ideally one involved in the Champions League. With no club expressing serious interest in signing him until QPR's intervention, his options have receded dramatically.
On Wednesday night Barton wrote on Twitter: "Going for a medical now, still no contract offer from NUFC.......think that just about makes my mind up." He added: "Don't want to leave Newcastle........I've made that clear but my hands are tied."
Warnock, no stranger to controversy himself, has long admired Barton but until the past few days he lacked the funds to sign him. Tony Fernandes's takeover at QPR has now provided the cue for Loftus Road officials to make their approach to Barton's agent. Although the player was initially cool on the idea of joining a newly promoted side, Willie McKay pointed out that QPR were offering a lucrative long-term deal and persuaded Barton to board a Kings Cross-bound train.
That departure left Alan Pardew harbouring mixed feelings. Although Newcastle's manager has found Barton distinctly "high-maintenance" at times, he values the midfielder's ability and aggression.
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