A free agent after being released by QPR at the end of last season, Joey Barton is one of many names linked with Leeds United so far this summer and by far the most eye-catching.

Players don’t come much more polarising than Barton, who at 32 is reaching the end of a career often marred by controversy. Convicted twice for acts of violence, serving 77 days in prison on the first occasion and receiving a four-month suspended sentence the second time, Barton’s obvious talents have long been overshadowed by his proclivity for anti-social behaviour.

Despite all this, Barton has spent most of his career in the Premier League – at Manchester City, Newcastle United and Queens Park Rangers – because he’s always been a good player teams know will add something to their side. Whether his ability offsets the risk he’ll do something to damage the club is a point every manager who’s ever signed him must have weighed up, but I’d fear it’s an even greater risk for Leeds given the uneasy relationship between The Football League and Massimo Cellino.

None of this takes into consideration whether Joey Barton actually wants to come to Leeds United of course, but he’s spoken in the past of his love for playing at Elland Road and as he enters the final stage of his career, maybe one last challenge of restoring the Whites’ Premier League status will be seen as the perfect opportunity to end his career on a high note.

A genuine risk, for sure, but is Joey Barton the man to help guide Leeds United back to the Premier League?

[interaction id=”55857b92405379f83bca5bbb”]