Joey Barton has accused Premier League clubs of lazily stereotyping him, claiming they expect him to be like Charles Manson or Fred West.
Barton, a free agent after leaving QPR, last week joined Burnley after West Ham decided against offering him a contract after talks.
Hammers fans had made it clear they did not want the club to sign Barton, but the midfielder believes any number of Premier League clubs would have benefited from signing him had they done their homework into his character.
Barton told the Daily Telegraph: “From time to time, people think it’s Charles Manson or Fred West that is going to come into the building, but that’s the ridiculous legacy I have, which is baffling.
“Most people who have met me know I’m hard working and I’m opinionated, but if you’re handled with respect, I’ve never had an issue with anybody. That gets lost with me from time to time because people start worrying about the baggage and how you’ll contribute to the group and how you’ll react if you’re not playing, which is lazy on their behalf. That’s how I see it.
“I think if you’re a Premier League club, anyone from 10th downwards, and you had the opportunity to take me on a free transfer it’s an absolute no-brainer. But they are lazy, they don’t do their homework so they tune into things you did in 2006, 2007, rather than look at what’s going on, what you’ve done in the last three years, how your family circumstances have changed.
“You go from being a single lad, who has had a lot of baggage and been in trouble, to starting a family, in the process of changing your life around and start progressing.”
Asked why his move to Upton Park fell through, Barton said: “Depends who you listen to. It just never got over the line. It was the 11th hour. It was really late and really disappointing. I felt I could have played there, but West Ham’s loss will be Burnley’s gain.
“They’ve got their reasons for not doing it. It’s probably a better fit for me here. It’s not Premier League football, which I wanted, but the aim is to be there quickly.”