LONDON: Queen's Park Rangers midfielder Joey Barton could be set for a season-long loan move to Marseille in exchange for the French Ligue 1 side's Cameroonian midfielder Stephane Mbia, Sky Sports television said on Friday.
Barton's future has been the subject of much debate after the 29-year-old was stripped of the captaincy and given a 12-match ban for his red card and subsequent conduct on the final day of last season against Manchester City.
He spent pre-season training with fourth-tier Fleetwood Town in northwest England but would not be able to join the League Two newboys on loan as it is understood the Football League would refuse to register him while his ban remains.
Ligue 1 club Marseille are reported to be the only club to have expressed an interest in the controversial former Newcastle United player.
The news comes after QPR failed to issue Barton with a squad number for the new season, with Sky Sports reporting that Mbia, 26, could be heading to west London in exchange.
Barton's number was given to summer signing Ryan Nelsen, and the midfielder posted on Twitter: “Heard my shirt numbers gone to someone else. News to me...”
“Just come off the golf course so only just heard. A call would have been nice. Ah, well life goes on...”
Barton signed off with a tweet “Bonne nuit” – French for “good night” – on the micro-blogging site on Thursday night.