Released by QPR following their relegation to the Championship last season, no club is yet to take a punt on Joey Barton.
At 32, the outspoken midfielder has 11 years of top-flight experience, in both England and France, under his belt and demonstrated last term that he could still cut in the Premier League, even if the bulk of his teammates couldn’t.
Despite being tasked to screen a porous defence, only three R’s colleagues made more assists than former Manchester City youth, while Mauricio Isla was the only first-team regular to average more tackles per match than his three.
For those in need of a hard-working, technically astute and, above all else, budget-friendly holding-midfielder, Barton ticks all the boxes.
One club who are in need of such a player is Newcastle, for whom a price of 5/1 says next season will bring the relegation they so narrowly avoided in 2014/15.
Although his presence couldn’t help QPR escape this fate last time around, shoring up the midfield with such a seasoned campaigner can only increase the Magpies’ chances of dodging the drop, especially if he can replicate the standard he set when turning out for the club in the late noughties.
Barton donned Newcastle black and white for five seasons and, most notably towards the end of his tenure, acquitted himself very well.
Deployed on the right of midfield by Alan Pardew, his performances were impressive enough to earn links with Arsenal, with Arsene Wenger only aborting plans to sign the player following an altercation with new Gunners signing Gervinho on the opening day of the 2011/12 season.
It paved the way for a move to QPR, with Barton leaving having expressed contempt at the Toon’s selling of star men Kevin Nolan and Andy Carroll earlier in the year.
Although the boardroom members whose antics acted as a catalyst for his departure remain involved with proceedings on Tyneside, new manager Steve McClaren’s presence could provide the platform for reconciliation.
Barton was vocal in his admiration of the former England boss (who gave the Huyton native his first and only international cap) and his coaching methods when he was assisting Harry Redknapp at QPR.
At present, Newcastle are a bit thin in the holding-midfield department, with Cheick Tiote, whom, it has been rumoured, may be leaving the club this summer, the only bona fide anchorman on the books.
Adding Barton to the fold would be a cheap way of remedying a potential dangerous situation.