New challenge awaits Joey Barton after fairytale season
Joey Barton feels that he chose the right time to walk away from the Clarets - to take on a new challenge with Rangers - following a fairytale year at Turf Moor.
The 33-year-old's induction in to the PFA Championship Team of the Year in addition to the Player of the Year accolade he received was a reflection of the role the midfielder played in guiding Sean Dyche's side to the title.
Barton, who scored three times for the club, which included the vital breakthrough against Preston North End at Deepdale, was offered a new one-year deal with Burnley and admitted that it was a tough decision to snub another shot at the Premier League.
“I’ve been in the Premier League before and [turning the chance down to play there next year] was a real tough decision for me," he said.
“You’re turning your back on a Premier League that’s going to contain [Pep] Guardiola, [Jurgen] Klopp, [Jose] Mourinho, [Antonio] Conte - a plethora of top managers and the players that will come with that.
“It wasn’t an easy decision but I just felt I had a great journey at Burnley. Everything has a beginning, middle and end and sometimes if you stay too long it ends up ruining it.
"I had a great year and it’s organically the right stage to get off. I’ve got a lot of friends beyond a professional experience and I’m onto the new challenge and what a challenge it is up at Rangers.”
The former Manchester City and Newcastle United man certainly endeared himself to the supporters and his team-mates at Turf Moor with a string of committed, industrious displays.
And, taking to social media, Barton showed that those feelings were reciprocated. He posted on Twitter: "Toughest decision of my professional life to leave an amazing set of people and a phenomenal culture behind.
"Thanks to all the Burnley fans and everyone connected to the club. Amazing support this year that will live with me for a lifetime."
Barton added: "Two undefeated in the derbies, 23 in the league. Champions. Not a bad way to leave. Thanks for the memories.
"Club is in a great place on and off the pitch with great custodians at the helm. Thanks again for the opportunity to represent your club.
"I was presented with an opportunity and challenge the competitive animal in me just could not turn down. Onwards and upwards now.
Barton put pen to paper on a two-year deal with the 54-time Scottish champions as Mark Warburton's side returned to the SPL following a four-year absence.
The former England cap claimed that he wanted to test himself in a different environment and realised instantly, on his arrival in Glasgow, that Ibrox was the place to do it.
“Anyone who is a football person in Britain knows the strength of this establishment and the history and tradition that goes with it – you’d have to be a fool not to know that," he said.
“I was completely mindful of everything that has gone before at this club and I understood the expectation, but it’s something I see as a really great challenge.
“There have been some incredibly gifted players who have done some great things for this football club, but also the opportunity is there to take the jersey on and take it to a new level.
“This football club is something – as everyone has seen in recent years – far more than a football club, and there aren’t many places like this left in Britain, indeed I think you could probably count them on two hands.
“The competitive animal in me recognises what a great challenge this is, what a great environment is already here, and hopefully I can come in and contribute to what has already gone on in the past and hopefully write a new chapter – and a really positive chapter – in its future."
Barton claims head of recruitment Frank McParland played a key role in his move north of the border. The Liverpudlian was the man to bring Barton to East Lancashire in the summer when he had the role of sporting director with the Clarets.
“The prime thing when you come to any football club is the people you are going to be working with on a daily basis. I obviously saw the job they did at Brentford before they came to Rangers, likewise Frank McParland who is someone who I have known for a long time.
“He was hugely influential in getting me to Burnley last season, before he left and then came to Rangers.
“We remained in contact and when I first found out there was potentially the opportunity to come here, from that moment on, my blood got pumping and I kept thinking what it could be like for me – and also what it already is."