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By ESPN Staff

Barton and Richards sign four-year City deals

Manchester City had double cause to celebrate today as Joey Barton and Micah Richards signed new four-year contracts.

The future of midfielder Barton, 23, had been in some doubt after he stunned City with a transfer request last season, while 18-year-old defender Richards was linked with a move to Tottenham.

But both players are now due to stay at Eastlands until at least 2010, with City moving to secure their futures after interest from other clubs.

Barton has rebuilt his relationship with the club, and manager Stuart Pearce was eager to retain the rising star, amid reported interest from Middlesbrough.

The Liverpool-born player's contract talks were almost derailed following a row over his agent Willie McKay's fee, but McKay opted to drop his request for what was understood to be £100,000.

Barton's existing contract had just one year left to run, and City were eager to keep him on a longer-term deal.

Pearce said: 'This is excellent news. I have always maintained that Joey's future lay with this football club and the player is very happy here.

'Joey is improving as a player and I am sure with continued hard work on his and our part, he can achieve his ambitions at Manchester City.'

Richards had two years left on his previous deal, but he has been rewarded after making an immediate impact on his debut season.

While Richards will be expected to continue to blossom in the City defence, former England Under-21 international Barton will be expected to push for a first senior cap under new national manager Steve McClaren.

And Barton believes the club have demonstrated they match his ambitions, with Bernardo Corradi, Ousmane Dabo, Dietmar Hamann and Paul Dickov among the summer recruits.

He told City's website: 'It is great that everything has been sorted out. I am grateful for the support and faith the manager and the chairman have shown me by offering me this contract. The support I have received from City fans has also been a great boost.

'I am ambitious and so is the club. I said if the club would sign quality players I would commit my future to City. The club has done that and I am a man of my word.

'Since we came back from the pre-season break there is a real mood of optimism at the club. I have always given my absolute maximum for this football club and I am looking forward to the new season and helping City challenge at the highest level.'