Saturday 27 May 2017

Arsene Wenger denies Arsenal were ever close to signing Joey Barton but were 'contacted many times'

Burnley's Joey Barton. Photo:: Peter Byrne/PA Wire
Burnley's Joey Barton. Photo:: Peter Byrne/PA Wire

Darren Witcoop

Joey Barton is not your archetypal Arsenal player so it's no real surprise that Arsene Wenger was among those to raise eyebrows at the midfielder's claims this week.

Barton revealed he came close to joining Arsenal with talks planned with Wenger over a free transfer move in 2011.

The midfielder says his dream move to the Emirates was ended by a red card picked up just months earlier in Newcastle’s 4-4 draw against Arsenal.

Barton, who now plays for Burnley, ended up heading to west London to join QPR on a free rather than pitch up in north London with Arsenal.

And while he does not fit into the Arsenal mould, Wenger says the move never came close to getting off the ground.

"I’ve been contacted many times to take Joey Barton," said Wenger.

"But he was never close to signing.

 “We had some fights with him, that’s true. There was never any need (to take him) in midfield.”

Barton, 34, lines up against Arsenal on Sunday having relaunched his Premier League career with the Clarets following an ill-fated spell with Glasgow Rangers in Scotland.

He has already made an impact after scoring on his Turf Moor return against Southampton, just three minutes after jumping off the substitutes' bench, to help Burnley maintain their impressive record on home soil.

It’s been a rather different story on the road, having picked up just one point and Wenger is hoping their away-day woes continue.

"What they have done is absolutely unbelievable so we have to make sure they don’t find a solution away from home," said Wenger, who earned a fortunate and controversial 1-0 win in October.

"Away from home recently they were a bit unlucky in some games.

"When we came out our away game with them you could see they would not go down as they had the spirit and organisation.

"They accept to leave you the ball. Not many teams do that and keep their focus.

"They say, ‘Ok from the start of the game you have the ball but we might try to kill you at some stage.’ You need a special spirit to do that."

Arsenal trail leaders Chelsea by six points but Wenger refuses to throw in the towel on his side's Premier League title hopes.

"For us every game is a cup final," he added. “I see it that way as Chelsea is ahead and everyone else is fighting.

“So it’s important first of all to try and build a gap with the teams around you and try and get closer to Chelsea. You never know.”

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