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Sep 2, 2012

Lyon: Barton too much of a risk

Lyon have claimed they would never have taken the gamble that Marseille did on Joey Barton.

Barton, 30, signed for Marseille on a season-long loan deal from QPR on the final day of the transfer window.

Yet Lyon club president Jean-Michel Aulas believes that the controversial midfielder's chequered past meant a move to Stade de Gerland for the player would never have been possible.

''We wouldn't have taken this player," club president Jean-Michel Aulas told French channel Canal Plus. "We wouldn't have taken such a risk. We have some guidelines inside the club, partners, and things we can't afford."

Barton picked up a 12-game ban after his altercation during QPR's final game of last season with Manchester City. If the French football Federation successfully appeals the sanction he will still have to sit on the sidelines for eight games before making his Marseille debut.

However, Barton has already received backing at his new club, with both sporting director Jose Anigo and winger Andre Ayew springing to his defence.

''Barton is more than a bad boy - above all that, he is a good player," Anigo said.

Ayew also told the club's official website: "He has a lot of experience that we can learn from him. I've already talked to him and he is very interesting."

Barton, who was at the Stade Velodrome on Sunday for his new team's 3-1 victory over Rennes, said he did not hesitate for one minute when the possibility of a move to Marseille arose.

''Everybody in England knows Marseille is an 'English' team thanks to its supporters and that football has an important role in the city. I'm delighted to have the chance to play for such a team,'' he said.

''It is a big club and I still remember the Champions League final in 1993 (Marseille won 1-0 against AC Milan). When my agent told me Marseille were interested in me, I didn't have to think about it.''

Barton is determined to change his reputation as he makes a fresh start abroad.

''I've been stupid, I have to change. In France I'll be judged on my performances. It's time to stop talking and proving I want to play, to show I'm a professional. I hope to help Marseille succeed quickly this season," he added.

One of Barton's most infamous acts was his attack on former Manchester City team-mate Ousmane Dabo in 2007, resulting in a four-month suspended prison sentence, and the retired Frenchman is far from happy with the Englishman's arrival in his homeland.

''He has committed many horrible things, the last in May! Nobody wanted him to stay in England and there is a reason. He is not a man to me, he is a coward,'' he said.

Frenchman Dabo took Barton to court over the incident, which hospitalised him, and effectively ended both players' Eastlands careers.

"He lied about what happened on training ground of Manchester City, it's amazing. It shocked me," Dabo told L'Equipe."There was a civil trial, he pleaded guilty and took a four months suspended sentence. When he speaks, he denies he said that I am the initiator. This is false. All team members who were present during the assault testified in my favour at the trial," Dabo told l'Equipe.

Barton arrival at Marseille has caused the former France international to speak out about his experience.

"He says he is a man, a bad boy, but he is a coward. I don't want to restore my truth, but the truth. Do not be mistaken about Barton, he is taking care of his communication. This is not the first time he does so. When he puts a knee to Aguero [during the last day of last season], he is still behind. I don't call him a man."

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