Joey Barton has admitted he once tried to hurt Xabi Alonso after the Spaniard “stole his move to Liverpool”.
Barton was sent off for a poorly-timed challenge on Alonso in a 3-0 Liverpool win over Newcastle in May 2009, late in the season that Newcastle were relegated under Alan Shearer’s watch.
In his new autobiography, ‘No Nonsense’, the suspended Rangers midfielder has detailed how the tackle was partly down to jealousy, with Alonso having “stolen” his move to Anfield five years prior.
‘Had things panned out differently, I could have made the obsessive debate about the mutual suitability of the Gerrard-Lampard axis redundant,’ Barton writes. ‘From what I gathered, Steven Gerrard agitated to get Liverpool to sign me in 2004, because he felt we had the potential to forge a partnership.
‘I met with Gerard Houllier at Melwood, and agreed everything verbally.
‘A deal was close to being concluded but then he was sacked that summer. It was never revived.’
On the 2009 tackle in particular, Barton added:
‘Xabi and I had history. He blamed me for knocking him out in what he thought was a deliberate clash of heads in one of our earliest contests, and I blamed him for stealing my move to Liverpool.
‘All that remained to be agreed with City was the fee, when Rafa Benitez took over from Gerard Houllier. I was in Dubai when I was informed that he had instead decided to sign a kid from Real Sociedad who had just broken into the Spanish national team.
‘That turned out to be £10.7m well spent. Xabi is one hell of a player, whose passes have a great range and accuracy.
‘Whenever we played, I sought to get the game on my terms, which were relentlessly physical.
‘(In 2009) Thirteen minutes remained. Liverpool were two up, cruising and playing keep ball. The Kop conducted an incessant, infuriating chant of ‘Ole, ole, ole!’
‘Xabi retained the ball near the corner flag fractionally longer than was prudent. That gave me the opportunity to fly in, and disguise my malicious intent as best as I could. Alonso milked the moment with a barrel roll. I expected a yellow and was shown a red.’