Joey Barton has fuelled speculation over his long-term future at QPR, with the Sun reporting the midfielder to have demanded a pay-off of £3.5m – equivalent to half the wages due for the two years remaining on his contract – to walk away from the relegated club this summer.
Harry Redknapp is thought to be keen to hold onto the midfielder – who spent last season on loan at Marseille – with Barton possessing the quality to make a real difference in the R’s bid to return to the top flight at the first time of asking next season.
However, the firebrand midfielder poured cold water on the idea of a prolonged stay in the second tier, tweeting ‘Some strange people think that I’ll be playing in the Championship next season. Good one! QPR might, I won’t! #fact’ back in April.
The R’s remain 2/1 second favourites in the market for Barton’s club at the end of the current transfer window, but it’s Marseille who lead the way in the dash to be the midfielder’s next port of call at 1/3.
Back in March, speculation – fuelled by Barton – was rife that the Liverpudlian terrier had been offered a three-year deal by L’OM on the back of what was an impressive debut season in Ligue 1.
Despite some frustrating periods on the sidelines with injuries, Barton amassed 25 starts for the Stade Velodrome outfit in 2012/13, assisting three goals as they posted a best-of-the-rest finish behind ultra-rich le Championnat winners PSG – an improvement of eight places on the previous campaign.
QPR were paying half the ex-Newcastle man’s wages for the duration of his sojourn in the south of France and with owner Tony Fernandes keen that he leave the club if not committed to playing for them next term, Barton seems certain to leave Loftus Road during the off-season.
The only barrier to making his move to L’OM permanent are the midfielder’s wage demands, which the Guardian suggest are roughly double what the French club is currently willing to pay.