Joey Barton’s hopes of a move to Everton look to have disappeared after the club indicated they were not interested in signing him.
Barton’s agent Willie McKay said on Wednesday that the QPR midfielder would be prepared to take a significant cut in his reported £70,000-a-week salary to move to Goodison Park.
The 30-year-old, a boyhood Everton fan, then appeared to hint at a desire to join the club shortly afterwards when he posted a message on Twitter.
Everton have made no comment on Barton’s interest in signing for the club, but sources say they are not interested in the former Manchester City and Newcastle man, who spent last season on loan at Marseille.
Once a blue...— Joseph Barton (@Joey7Barton) July 31, 2013
Manager Roberto Martinez is understood to be looking for a younger midfielder, and has been linked with a move for Wigan’s James McCarthy.
Earlier, Barton admitted to being “gutted” after Neville Southall mocked his hopes of moving to Everton by comparing him to Forrest Gump.
Southall, who kept goal for the club between 1981 and 1998, suggested that Barton would be a poor signing for manager Roberto Martinez.
The former Wales international, a league title winner at Goodison in 1985 and 1987, told TalkSPORT: “What is he going to add to Everton? He might be a half-decent player at times, but, if he was that good, Harry Redknapp would be begging him to stay at QPR.
“I don’t see how he will fit into Everton’s style of play. He ain’t the best passer in the world.
“Yes he is fit and runs up and down all day – but Forrest Gump did that as well, didn’t he?”
Barton has developed a reputation for expressing strong opinions on Twitter, but refused to criticise Southall.
The midfielder tweeted on Wednesday evening: “Big Neville Southall has given it to me, I see. Gutted – he was one of my heroes growing up. Best keeper in the world at one stage.
“Am not getting after him. Regardless of what he thinks of me. I will always have the utmost respect for the player he was… a hero to me.
“I ain’t gonna attack Big Nev, f*** that. If he thinks I’m Forrest Gump, sound. I’m made up he knows who I am. I loved him as a player.”
The midfielder is set to line up for QPR – relegated from the Premier League in May – when they begin their Championship season at home to Sheffield Wednesday on Saturday.
Barton took to Twitter again on Thursday morning to play down his keenness to join Everton, despite his agent’s comments.
The midfielder posted: “It’s funny how people take a throw away comment to a hypothetical question and before you know it, it’s national news.
“It’s well known who I support. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to work that out. Good football agents will always be looking to move players, that’s how they make money.
“Recent rumours are slightly wide of the mark, everyone knows where I would like to end up - in France playing in the Champions League for Olympique Marseille.
“Nothing has changed my end. If not, I am contracted to QPR and will give my all to help them regain their Premier League status.
“If something happens and both clubs decide differently than I will assess my options. No matter what happens, I intend to enjoy my football and play with a smile on my face...wherever that may be. Careers are too short.”
McKay, Barton’s agent, had said on Wednesday: “Joey said there was only one club he would make a sacrifice for and it would be Everton and I made that call to [manager Roberto] Martinez. That is the club he loves.”
Marseille, meanwhile, have said it is up to Barton to decide whether he wants to return to French football.
Last week Marseille President Vincent Labrune said that it could still be possible for Barton to return to France - despite the club spending over €7 million on Giannelli Imbula.
The player’s agent, McKay, was unimpressed that OM spent so much money on another midfielder, according to Wednesday’s Le Parisien, and said the French club needed to do more to secure Barton’s signature.
Marseille sporting director Jose Anigo responded on Thursday by saying he would be not be surprised if Barton is negotiating with Everton.
“I don’t know about it,” he told L’Equipe. “It’s very possible that his agent, who is English (sic) and works in the English market, might be in contact with Everton.
“We were clear with Joey. It’s up to him to decide.”
L’Equipe says that Marseille offered Barton a €120,000-a-month deal in May, while Labrune also believes the ball is in the player’s court.
“We made him an offer but he has to liberate himself from his contract with Queens Park Rangers,” he told L’Equipe. “It’s up to him.”