Michael Duff feels Burnley’s player of the year Joey Barton is fully entitled to weigh up his options as the midfielder prepares to make a decision about his future.
The former Manchester City, Newcastle United and Marseille man will see his contract at Turf Moor expire in the summer and the 33-year-old has already held talks with Rangers.
Barton made 40 appearances for Sean Dyche’s side in all competitions, netting three times, as he helped steer the club to the Championship title.
“He didn’t make it common knowledge,” said Duff. “As soon as the season finishes the lads all disappear. I’ve had a couple of texts with him but I’ve not asked him about that, it’s completely up to him.
“He’s out of contract so he is entitled to speak to who he wants. It will be good if he stays because of his personality in the dressing room and influence on the pitch.
“If he stays it’s great if he doesn’t you move onto pastures new, footballers come and go.”
The 38-year-old former Northern Ireland defender, who announced his retirement at the end of the season after making 383 appearances for the Clarets, added: “He’s been influential, on and off the pitch.
“The club have offered him a contract, they’ve made it clear they want him to stay, but it’s up to Joey.
“It’s pretty obvious he’s pretty single minded so he’ll do what he thinks is right and the club will deal with it. If he goes we replace him if he doesn’t, great.”
Barton visited Murray Park to thrash out terms over a potential move to Ibrox at the weekend, with a three-year deal believed to be on the table.
If he stays it’s great if he doesn’t you move onto pastures new, footballers come and goMichael Duff
Rangers have returned to the SPL following a four-year absence and boss Mark Warburton is keen to add the services of the one-time England international.
“Joey is a very talented player,” he said. “He’s a Burnley player still. He’s a very talented individual. He offers the experience and maturity that we need to add to the squad.
“They are Championship team of the year after a fantastic season for Joey, I’m sure he has a lot of options. All we can try and do is show him what Rangers represents, the opportunity we represent and just see where that goes.”
Barton is expected to come to a decision prior to Rangers’ Scottish Cup final against Hibernian at Hampden Park tomorrow but, whatever the outcome, Duff is backing boss Sean Dyche to produce the goods in the transfer market once again.
“I think the gaffer will be careful with who he brings in,” he said. “We’ve already seen that - we had money this year but he doesn’t just go out and spend it on anybody.
“The two main signings that he made this year were Andre and Joey, Championship player of the year and Burnley player of the year. They were two good signings. He’ll be mindful of who he signs and what he brings in.”
He added: The gaffer spends a lot of time in his recruitment because the personality needs to fit.
“It doesn’t matter how good you are because the manager or the lads won’t have you in the team if you’re not prepared to do all the dirty work which all the other lads are.
“The way the whole ethos is, the togetherness as a team, we work hard with or without the ball together.”