Roberto Martinez has done superbly since he took the role of Everton boss, adding key signings to the squad and hanging onto key players, which leaves the club in a strong position for the start of the new season.
Joey Barton is always going to be followed around by controversy, and that’s one of the main reasons several fans may want the club to stay well clear of this 30-year-old much-travelled player.
However, he can add to Everton in a number of ways:
Barton's aggression is definitely something that could help the current Everton midfield. Hopefully he’s now fine-tuned the balance between productive aggressiveness and recklessness, because there have been examples in the past when he’s let this side of the game get the better of him.
That aggression can, however, help Everton - especially during flat periods in matches where the side is struggling, under pressure and maybe chasing the game. He has the ability to inspire through his aggression around the field.
Barton’s now staring at the final part of his career, and has built up a lot of experience having played for several clubs in England, as well as now having a solid season in Ligue One under his belt.
That can only be beneficial as far as the younger players at the club are concerned. He’s a figure for those youngsters to look up to, and someone to turn to when they go through difficult periods (both on and off the field) which go hand in hand with professional football these days.
Barton’s actually still a very good central midfielder. His core qualities as a player are superb, and focus definitely gets taken away from that because of the negative things which have plagued him in the past.
That’s significant because Roberto Martinez is a boss who likes his teams to play good passing football. He can slot right into the current system at Everton, and he won’t be out of his depth. He can also be effective in the defensive and attacking third of the pitch.
It’s clear that Barton is the sort of player who will always stick up for his teammates, whether they are getting criticised in the media or whether they are being targeted physically on the pitch.
Barton has enjoyed captaincy roles in his career and his personality is that of a natural leader. He sets an example, but most importantly he protects his teammates and can be a major positive influence if managed in the right way.
Point to Prove
If Barton does come back to English football with Everton, he’ll definitely feel as though he has a point to prove to his critics (who are many). And that can be a massive positive.
But a clear-headed, professionally motivated, fully-fit Joey Barton could just be what Everton need this coming season. And who's to say that Roberto Martinez isn't the man to truly get the best out of this complex character ?
What do you think ? Worth a risk or stay well clear ?
image: © michael kjaer