After an interview with French Football Weekly, it seems that Joey Barton, 30, has adapted nicely to the differences in style in Ligue 1 after his dramatic exit from the Premier League last season.
Before Marseille’s 0-0 draw on Sunday at Lille, he was interviewed and true to form, he held nothing back.
However, being the Joey Barton that most football fans know, part of me isn’t surprised.
“”It’s [Ligue 1] stronger than what I thought heading in, people sort of think there is a lack of quality, certainly the English think there is a lack of quality anywhere outside the Premier League," he said.
Reading through the interview, you get a real insight into the mind of Joey Barton, and I found my respect for him growing with every sentence. When it comes to Barton’s antics, most recently his amusing spat with Thiago Silva of Paris Saint Germain, whilst personally I find most of what he says hilarious, I also appreciate that when in the public eye, political correctness and opinions are carefully monitored due to so many parties being involved.
”I’ve always spoken from the heart, I think that’s why people follow me on Twitter, I’m one of the few that has no regard, sometimes to my own detriment, to tell the truth, but that’s me.
“I always speak from the heart, and it’s not as important as some people make out – for some people it’s life and death, and it’s not that serious. It’s football, and we love it, and I’m someone who’s dedicated my life to it – we’re football fans, I’m a football fan, I just play. I’m the lucky one, I get to play. It’s a game that once bitten by it, it’s difficult to get away from.“
With Barton becoming a father late last year, he describes how his impression of football and the future has changed completely. Between completing his coaching badges and playing for a foreign club, he describes how he believes having the knowledge of a different league in a different country will be beneficial to his coaching skills when teaching the next generation of footballers
On the last game of the season, after the incident with Sergio Aguero against Manchester City, many thought that would be the last time Joey Barton would play in the Premier League.
After his move to Marseille, it felt like he had been exiled never to return. But the move abroad may have helped to take the edge off of Barton’s temper.
He has still been given five yellow cards and a very harsh sending off this season; those stats don’t really do him justice.
In the interview, Barton refers to the differences between the relationship between the public and the referees, and the referees and the French Football Federation (The French FA).
”“I’ve had a really great relationship with the referees. Because I respect them, I understand it’s not England and that certain decisions will be given here that maybe won’t in England, and also you try and speak with them.
“They are a lot more open – I don’t want to be critical of the English referees because I think they’re really good, but the French referees have a lot more strength in the conviction of the decision, so they say ‘I’m going to give this decision and I don’t care what’s written in the paper about me the next day'."
So will Barton be coming back to the Premier League?
Aston Villa have struggled for form throughout the season, and need a bit more grit and experience in their midfield.
Newly promoted Cardiff City could use Barton to add some Premier League experience to their ranks.
Either of these clubs could and should welcome Barton should he become available this summer. But does Barton want to come back?
When asked if Champions League football would convince him to stay, he replied simply with this:
“I don’t need any convincing. For me, I’m more than happy to stay here. I envisage myself playing for another 6-8 years, I won’t retire, and they’ll have to carry me off the pitch."
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