Barton won’t drop into Champ

The midfielder is entering the final 12 months of his contract at

St James’ Park after talks over a new deal broke down. Unless

negotiations over an extension resume, Barton could either see out

the next year before leaving Tyneside on a free transfer next

summer, or leave during the current transfer window if Newcastle

decide they want to cash in. He has been linked with a move to

relegated West Ham, where he would be reunited with former

team-mate Kevin Nolan and manager Sam Allardyce, who brought Barton

to Newcastle in 2007. However, the 28-year-old maintains that he

has no interest in playing for a second-tier club as he wants to

test himself against the best in the business. “Contract

negotiations not re-opened. Back to NUFC on Tuesday, Happy days,”

Barton wrote on Twitter. He added: “Why would I drop down a league

when I can more than hold my own in the Premiership? “What benefit

would it give me? None. “I play this game to play against the best

week in, week out.”