RANGERS will finally bring the Joey Barton saga to an end on Wednesday after striking a severance deal with the controversial midfielder, Press Association Sport understands.
The Light Blues are desperate to offload the £20,000-a-week summer signing – who has not been seen at the club for a week after being signed off with stress – after watching his Ibrox switch turn sour.
And they will finally secure the agreement needed to end their four-month association following final showdown talks with Barton’s representatives on Wednesday afternoon.
But it is understood the 34-year-old former Manchester City, Newcastle and QPR battler intends to kick-start his career as soon as the January transfer window opens.
And the former England international still believes he is good enough to cut it in the English Premier League – with former club Burnley looking his most obvious destination.
Barton has not been seen in a Rangers kit since their humiliating 5-1 thrashing by rivals Celtic back in September.
He was involved in furious bust-up with team-mate Andy Halliday and boss Mark Warburton as the shell-shocked Gers squad held a training-ground post-mortem into their Parkhead humiliation.
Warburton was left furious when Barton refused to apologise after questioning his manager’s methods – specifically his acid-tongued criticism of Rangers’ defensive set-up – in front of the entire Gers squad and banished him from the club’s Auchenhowie training ground.
That suspension was eventually strung out for eight weeks as Rangers chiefs examined whether they had grounds to sack the ex-Marseille midfielder, who further enraged Warburton when he gave an unauthorised radio interview questioning his fellow Englishman’s handling of the initial fall-out.
Barton also fell foul of the Scottish Football Association’s strict betting rules. He faces a Hampden hearing a week on Thursday, but is only expected to receive a moderate punishment.
When it became apparent to Ibrox bosses that dismissal was not an option, however, Barton was eventually allowed to return to training last Thursday.
But it was made clear he would not be rejoining Warburton’s group as he was instead ordered to train with the club’s Under-20s team. Areas like the training ground gym were even ruled off-limits when the rest of the first-team were present.
The soap opera did not stop there, though. On Tuesday it emerged Barton’s return had lasted just one day before he was signed off with stress.
But it now seems enough is enough for the troubled Ibrox outfit – they are already 11 points behind Celtic just 12 games into the season – and chairman Dave King’s board are now set to draw a line under the episode by agreeing a settlement package.
Barton is understood to be “gutted” that his Ibrox move has turned into such an unmitigated disaster.
He turned down a £35,000-a-week offer at Burnley, where he was named the Claret’s player of the year after their triumphant SkyBet Championship campaign last term, in order to seal his switch to Glasgow on a two-year contract.
Never shy to give his opinion, Barton claimed he would prove himself to be the best player in Scotland, while also insisting he would dominate Celtic skipper Scott Brown when the two went head-to-head.
But he never came close to delivering on those promises in the eight appearances he made for Warburton’s team.
He looked short of fitness after a rushed pre-season and was left chasing shadows as a Brown-inspired Hoops line-up ran amok in the first Old Firm derby of the season.
Despite failing to perform in Scotland, however, Press Association Sport understands Barton remains as convinced as ever that he retains the quality needed to play in the top-flight south of the border.
And a return to Burnley appears to be his most likely move once the transfer window reopens. Turf Moor manager Sean Dyche has already refused to rule out a return for the Liverpudlian after being asked about a possible reunion last month.