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By ESPN Staff
Jul 6, 2006

Pearce keen to keep Barton despite contingency buys

Manchester City manager Stuart Pearce is adamant he wants Joey Barton to remain at Eastlands - despite his ongoing raid for midfielders.

Pearce has already signed Ousmane Dabo from Lazio, and is believed to be close to adding Liverpool's former Germany international Dietmar Hamann to the squad.

Now Pearce is being linked with Reading's attacking midfielder Steve Sidwell, who with a year remaining on his current contract has rejected a new offer.

That would appear to indicate Barton may be surplus to requirements, in particular as the 23-year-old is stalling on signing his own new contract.

Middlesbrough have often been strongly linked with Barton and while Pearce admits there have been enquiries, he added 'there have been no concrete offers'.

Speaking on Sky Sports News he added: 'I would like Joey to stay at the football club. I have said that from day one and I maintain that now.'

It is believed Pearce has bid £2million for Sidwell, who scored 10 goals in the Royals' glorious promotion campaign to the Premiership last season, but apparently faces a battle with Charlton counterpart Iain Dowie.

That is providing Reading boss Steve Coppell will allow Sidwell to leave the Madejski Stadium as the 23-year-old has become an integral member of the squad.

The fact Sidwell has turned down Reading's new contract offer would appear to aid Pearce's cause.

Reading, though, are confident of holding onto the England Under-21 international, who has made 150 appearances for the club since leaving Arsenal in January 2003

'We've made Steve an improved offer which he has turned down, but there is plenty of time before the season begins and we hope that he will reconsider,' said director of football Nick Hammond.

'We understand his position and he understands ours, but as yet we've not been able to come to an agreement.'

Hammond added: 'We have no intention of selling him, and have no doubts about his commitment to the club for the season ahead.'

Pearce does at least have cash at his disposal after selling Bradley Wright-Phillips to Coca-Cola Championship side Southampton in a deal that could rise to £1million.

City have also received a further £200,000 from the sale of Tyrone Mears to West Ham as there was a clause in the defender's contract from when he initially joined Preston.