Barton: I'm England's best midfielder
Newcastle's Joey Barton has made the bold claim that there is no better English midfielder in the country than him at present.
Barton has revived his career at St James' Park and has stressed that he is seeking to secure a new deal, rather than move away.
Transfer speculation surrounding him prompted Barton to seek out manager Alan Pardew and pledge his future to Newcastle and he clearly feels his case is strong for a new contract as he believes he is worthy of an England chance.
"I think I am a better player now than when I signed," Barton told Sky Sports. "I don't think it is for me to say but at the end of the day I don't think there is anyone playing better than me in this country. That's an honest answer, not a big-header answer."
Barton is seemingly frustrated by England boss Fabio Capello's selection policy, though, and believes that if it was just about form, he would have been selected long ago.
"There are probably six or seven midfielders get in a squad for an England game and I don't think there are two English players playing better than me at the minute. But it's not all about football. "Fabio Capello came in and said he wanted to pick form players, but I don't think he has done that. Some of the players than have been picked have not been form players. If the selection policy is form players then there are not 21 better, or in-form players than me in the country."
Reflecting on his own future, amid reported interest from the likes of West Ham, Barton said: "There has been a lot of paper speculation so I went and said I don't want to go. I am enjoying being at the football club and hopefully they will get a new deal sorted out and I can stay here for the rest of my career."