Joey Barton’s agent Willie McKay has confirmed the England midfielder will leave Manchester City this summer – but again questioned the decision to suspend his client over the training ground bust-up that left Ousmane Dabo requiring hospital treatment.
Barton is due to face an internal disciplinary hearing next week into his assault on Dabo, which, in the Frenchman’s own words, left him looking “like the Elephant Man”.
Dabo has already spoken to local police with a view to taking legal action against the Merseysider, who has a history of off-field troubles.
It has been virtually accepted within City circles that Barton must now leave Eastlands, even though he has been the club’s best player for much of the campaign, a view McKay agrees with.
However, the controversial agent, who defended Barton in the aftermath of the attack, claiming it was the kind of incident that happens all the time on training grounds up and down the country, has questioned City’s motives for banning the player from the final two games of the season.
“I wonder what the situation would have been had City been in Charlton’s position, or Wigan’s position,” he told TALKSport.
“There is no doubt Joey has been their best player and I couldn’t see them doing this if they were in that position.
“Joey’s definitely going to have to move on and he is in big demand.”
McKay revealed he had been contacted by clubs at home and abroad over Barton’s availability.
Under the terms of the lucrative contract he signed last summer, Barton is free to talk to any prospective buyer who offers City £5.5m, with Everton, who inquired about him in January, seemingly his preferred destination.
“Joey is an Evertonian,” said McKay.
“All his family support Everton. They are sitting fifth in the league and looking good.
“There is a £5.5m clause in his contract and Manchester City are happy to take £5.5m.
“I have been contacted by three clubs abroad who are very interested and six or seven clubs over here but at the end of the day someone has got to come up with £5.5m.”
Another player whose City future is open to doubt, former skipper Sylvain Distin, will decide his future within a fortnight at the latest.
The French defender has so far refused to sign a new long-term deal with the Blues and with his current deal due to expire in the summer, the smart money is on him following Barton out of the exit door.
One player definitely staying though is striker Emile Mpenza, who signed a one-year deal prior to Saturday’s Manchester derby defeat to United.
Although City’s failure to score extended their run without a Premiership goal on home soil to eight matches, leaving them with just 10 all season – the worst return in top flight history – Mpenza did manage to impress following his January arrival from Qatar.
And the former Hamburg and Schalke star believes he can have even more of an impact next year when he has had chance to push himself through a full pre-season programme, setting himself a minimum target of 10 goals.
“I want to stay a long time at City,” he told www.mcfc.co.uk
“After a couple of years here and there, I think I have settled into English football, so if I carry on doing well, anything is possible.
“I like playing over here. It is quicker and for me, it is the best league in Europe.
“Next season I will be more at home because I will have trained with the team from when we come back in the summer.
“If that happens, I think I can get 10 goals or more next season.”