Joey Barton finally signed a highly lucrative four-year contract at QPR on Friday after it became apparent no other club were poised to make a late offer for him and Newcastle United would not perform a volte-face.
The midfielder, handed a free transfer by Newcastle after criticising the club on Twitter, had stalled for 24 hours on his move to Loftus Road, appealing for "time and space" after passing a medical in west London on Thursday. Yet following a day of talks with Neil Warnock he accepted an offer reported to be around £80,000 a week which, as well as representing a significant improvement on his near £70,000 a week Newcastle wage, will make him the highest paid player in QPR's history.
Although Alan Pardew, Newcastle's manager, had said he "would welcome" Barton back and "look after him", it is understood that the St James' Park board never contemplated offering him the contract extension he craved and were delighted to learn that he had boarded a Kings Cross-bound train on Wednesday.
Although signing a new left-back – Erik Pieters, PSV Eindhoven's Dutch international, is expected to finalise his long-mooted £7m move to Newcastle this weekend – and a striker remain Pardew's transfer priorities before the window closes, Graham Carr, the club's influential chief scout, has been tasked with identifying potential, and available, replacements for Barton.
The first signing of the Tony Fernandes era at Loftus Road – the AirAsia chief executive took control of the board last week – turns 29 on Friday but believes his best days are ahead of him.
"Joey's coming here to show people what he can do," Warnock said. "He wants to get back into the England team. We've got a very, very good player on our hands, he's a winner and a lot better than people give him credit for. People will say one or two things about him but they've said stuff about me in the past so that won't worry me."
By a quirk of fate Barton, currently nursing a minor foot injury, could make his QPR debut when Newcastle visit west London on 12 September. "It's been quite a whirlwind, so to get things finally sorted is a great relief," he said. "The ambition of the club really impressed me.
"The Gaffer is talking about adding two or three more bodies and that, combined with the potential of the club and the new ownership's ambitions, bode really well for the future."
Derek Llambias, Newcastle's managing director, said, somewhat pointedly: "We wish to thank Joey for his on-field contributions."
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