Date:Tuesday July 4 2006
According to fresh reports, new Middlesborough boss Gareth Southgate has picked up where his predecessor Steve McLaren left off by pursuing an interest in Manchester City Midfielder Joey Barton. The 'bid', if indeed there has been an official one, is said to be in the region of £3m - which is £500k less than Boro offered in the January transfer window.
Stuart Pearce values Barton at £5m, but since he appears to have resigned himself to Joey no longer being part of the equation at Eastlands (as indicated by his siging of Ousmane Dabo from Lazio, and his current pursuit of both Didi Hamaan and Thomas Graveson) this latest approach will no doubt give him considerable food for thought as he struggles on a shoestring budget to reinforce his horrendously depleted ranks in time for the start of the new Premiership season.
Barton is apparently due for talks up on Teeside this week, and will no doubt be aware that since England manager McLaren is a fan of his he could do a lot worse than place his, ahem, loyal and humble services at the disposal of McLaren's former club.
Since Middlesborough have a long history of gambling on mercenaries, ageing stars and never-quite-made-its, it seems to make sense that they are one of a very exclusive shortlist of clubs currently expressing an interest in Barton.
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