Marseille coach Élie Baup has defended outspoken Englishman Joey Barton and played down suggestions that Lorient's Jérémie Aliadière could be on his way to the Stade Vélodrome in the summer.
Speaking to RMC radio on Monday, Baup insisted that now is not the time to discuss Barton's future at the club beyond this season but did indicate that the on-loan Queens Park Rangers player's regular Twitter outbursts will have no impact on his chances of winning a permanent contract.
"Our business will remain internal, but obviously we are looking at players for next season," Baup said. "For the moment Barton is on loan and belongs to QPR so we will see what happens at the end of the season. He is the type of player who keeps the ball well and is also good at winning it back. He is endearing and the way he behaves internally is nothing like the image he gives off externally."
Barton, who last week claimed to have agreed terms to stay at OM, escaped punishment from a national ethics committee (CNE) on Monday after calling Paris Saint-Germain Thiago Silva a "ladyboy" in a recent tweet, could still face further investigation.
The CNE claimed they were unable to pass judgement on the matter at the moment but have referred the case back to the French Football Federation. If it is looked into again, the Englishman is liable to face either a warning or possibly a suspension.
Meanwhile, Baup was giving little away when asked about the chances of seeing Aliadière move to the south coast. The former Arsenal striker has successfully re-launched his career at Lorient, scoring 14 Ligue 1 goals this season, and was linked to OM in press reports at the weekend.
It is however believed that Aliadière's English wife is keen to return to England while the player himself admits to being tempted at the prospect of a move back to the Premier League. And Baup insists that he is happy with his current attacking options, especially with André-Pierre Gignac back scoring on a regular basis this season.
"In relation to Aliadière, we already have Gignac who is a good solution," he said. "Jordan Ayew is progressing well too so we have players for that department."
Meanwhile, Baup admitted that there is no chance his side, or anyone else, can prevent Paris Saint-Germain from winning the title, with the capital club nine points clear of second-placed OM with six matches remaining this season.
"From the beginning I have said that the title is destined to go to Paris," he said. "I consider Paris to be the favourites and logically they will win the league this year and in the years to come. We will be left fighting for second place."