Big bets suggest Watford are leading the chase for Joey Barton

Watford are now 7/4 favourites to sign Queens Park Rangers midfielder Joey Barton when his contract expires at the end of the month.

A number of bets in Ladbrokes shops, and in particular two branches in the north London area, have seen the odds on the 32-year-old joining the Hornets crash from 8/1 in the space of a week.

Barton spoke over the weekend of how he wants a “real football project” at his next club, and with new Europa League-winning boss Quique Sanchez Flores in place and owners who are willing to dig deep for progress, Vicarage Road looks more and more likely to be the setting for such a project.

The former Manchester City man has decided against taking a holiday at the end of the campaign just gone, in favour of jetting off for some warm-weather training, with his desire to avoid going long without a club obvious.

There could be competition for his signature with the likes of Leeds and Fulham reported to be interested in signing the combative player.

However despite the rumoured £1m-a-year Massimo Cellino is willing to offer Barton to join the Championship club, his well-documented regret at the reasons he joined QPR could put that one to bed.

The Elland Road outfit are an 11/4 shot to get their man, while it is 12/1 that he opts for a stay in west London with Fulham.

Despite the fact his current side dropped from the Premier League with little more than a whimper, Barton’s performances did earn him some praise.

He showed his trademark grit and fight throughout the season, earning the third-highest average match rating, according to website

While he may not be the glamorous, marquee signing some fans will be demanding from the Pozzo family, the addition of a proven Premier League player on a free transfer could be just the ticket to help Watford avoid a drop straight back down to the second tier, for which they are 8/13 favourites.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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Ben Stones

Ladbrokes News’ equine expert, Ben likes nothing more than studying the form to pick out a winner or two for our readers. A Journalism and Media Studies graduate from the University of Winchester, Ben has previously written for a number of football and racing blogs and websites, as well as contributing to the sports pages of his home-town newspaper.