Joey Barton claims that Sunderland made an eleventh hour attempt to lure Barrie McKay away from Swansea City, only for the winger to make a deadline-day switch to Fleetwood Town instead, according to the Gazette.
On the final day of the January transfer window, Barton was reunited with an exciting wideman who really caught his eye during that ill-fated spell at Rangers in 2016.
McKay was the breakthrough star during The Gers’ first season back in the Scottish top flight under Mark Warburton, his rapid pace and eye for goal seeing the Glasgow giants slap a £6 million price-tag on their prized asset (Daily Record).
Almost four years on, however, McKay now finds himself in the third tier of English football after failing to build on that initial promise during disappointing spells at Nottingham Forest and Swansea.
Fleetwood boss Barton knows that he has a mercurial talent on his hands, however, claiming that McKay was a target for League One rivals Sunderland before he was unveiled at Highbury.
“I played with Barrie at Rangers, then he got a move to Forest and did really, really well,” said the former Newcastle and Burnley midfielder.
“I couldn’t believe he was available because you would expect a Championship club or one of the big Scottish teams to take a player of his quality.
“We’d monitored him all the way through but late in the window he was available at Fleetwood prices and luckily for us we got him signed. At the last minute Sunderland tried to do the deal but we had the paperwork done, so it’s nice to put one across them again.”
It remains to be seen whether McKay has made the right move, though the presence of a former Rangers team-mate in the Cod Army dugout surely stands him in good stead.
A player with huge natural talent, if a somewhat questionable attitude, McKay could potentially have filled an Aiden McGeady shaped void in a Sunderland team who have scored just twice in their last four games.
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