'I had talks with Arsenal' claims Barton
While the debate continues over whether Arsenal strengthened sufficiently during the summer, Joey Barton has claimed he could have signed for the club but for his flare-up with Gervinho which led to the Gunners striker being sent off.
Barton, then with Newcastle United, clashed with Gervinho at St James' Park on the opening day of the season. The 29-year-old midfielder said yesterday that the incident may well have ended Arsene Wenger's interest in acquiring him on a free transfer.
"If I hadn't played against Arsenal on the first day, I may have signed for them," Barton claimed.
"There were a couple of conversations (with Wenger), but that's different to actually signing.
"The Gervinho incident happened and there's nothing I can do about it now. If it happened again, I'd like to think I'd deal with it differently. Things happen for a reason and there's a lesson to be learned from it. Right now we sit above Arsenal in the table -- hopefully that's the case in May."
Barton left Newcastle on a free transfer and joined newly promoted QPR instead on a four-year deal, which is understood to earn him up to £80,000 a week.
Arsenal would not want to pay such a high salary, having balked at the £75,000 a week earned by Mikel Arteta before he agreed to a £20,000-a-week pay cut to move to the Emirates.
However, Everton also received a £10m fee for Arteta while Newcastle allowed Barton to leave for free. Stoke were also bidding for Barton. "There were a couple of offers on the table but now I'm really happy to be at QPR," he said.
Arsenal are still reeling from their difficult start to the campaign. Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri have left while Arteta, Per Mertesacker, Andre Santos, Park Chu-Young and Yossi Benayoun have been signed.
Yet the team have struggled and are already 11 points behind Premier League leaders Manchester United.
It is Arsenal's worst start to a season for 58 years, which prompted chief executive Ivan Gazidis to state that there were no plans to remove Wenger from his post. The manager reacted with irritation to questions over his future and whether he needed to recruit new coaching staff to organise a defence that has conceded 14 goals in five league games. (© Daily Telegraph, London)