Joey Barton has been speaking about Liverpool again, having claimed a few weeks back that we tried to sign him to play alongside Steven Gerrard when Gerard Houllier was in charge.
This time, the current Rangers midfielder reckons we tried to snare him from Everton’s Academy, where he played as a young teenager.
“At the end of one of my Sunday morning matches a familiar figure introduced himself. He asked how things were going at Everton, and suggested that he could find a place for me in Liverpool’s academy,” Barton began, cited in the Express.
“I couldn’t believe it. I was being tapped up by Steve Heighway, the former Liverpool winger who was developing a reputation as one of football’s greatest talent spotters.
“I knew I could have learned so much under him, but also knew there was no way the ultimate betrayal would be allowed. Steve was persistent, if nothing else, and rang our home phone several times before Dad took the call.
“He barely had a chance to explain how impressed he had been with me when he was cut short. ‘No, no, no, no,’ Dad exclaimed. ‘We’re Evertonians, mate.’
“With that, he put the phone down.”
What a relief that Liverpool never did sign the odious Barton! When Rafa Benitez arrived in 2004, he snapped up Xabi Alonso instead, a midfielder who’s the same age as Barton, but recognised as one of the best in his position anywhere in world football over the past decade.
Barton is under investigation in Scotland for betting on football matches, having committed a string of other offences throughout a turbulent career. He’s also out in the cold for an argument with manager Andy Halliday, unsurprising considering his history.
If we were Barton, we’d get our head down and focus on salvaging our career north of the boarder.