Barton opens talks with QPR

Newcastle have given QPR permission to open talks with controversial midfielder Joey Barton.

The 28-year-old England international is one of a host of players Rangers have made an approach for since the Tony Fernandes-led takeover was announced last week.

Barton was recently told he can leave Newcastle on a free transfer after contract talks broke down acrimoniously. His current deal expires next summer.

He then angered Magpies officials by airing his frustrations on Twitter and was left to train with the youth team, although he has since re-joined the senior squad.

Newcastle, who signed him from Manchester City for £5.8m in 2007, are keen to offload Barton before the transfer window closes and hope he will agree a move to west London.

After serving a six-month ban from football and a 77-day prison sentence for assault, Barton has rebuilt his career at St James’ Park.

He clashed with former manager Alan Shearer and was suspended in 2009, but later played a key role in Newcastle’s return to the top flight and 12th-placed finish last season.

Despite his high-profile fall-out with the Tyneside club’s hierarchy, he started this term in the first team and was booked during the opening-day match against Arsenal after an altercation with striker Gervinho.