Queens Park Rangers signed Newcastle midfielder Joey Barton to a four-year contract, the Premier League club said on its website.
Barton, 28, was in the final year of his contract with Newcastle and became available on a free transfer after criticizing the club on his Twitter account.
“It’s been quite a whirlwind, so to get things finally sorted and draw a line under it all is a great relief,” Barton, who is signed through the 2015 season, said on QPR’s website.
Barton becomes manager Neil Warnock’s first signing since QPR was bought last week by Tony Fernandes, chief executive officer of Malaysia’s AirAsia Bhd. The club is back in the Premier League for the first time since 1996 after winning the second-tier Championship last season.
Barton has scored 22 goals in 191 league matches with Newcastle and Manchester City since 2002. He made his lone appearance with the England national team in 2007 against Spain.
“We’ve got a very, very good player on our hands,” Warnock said. “He’s a winner. Even without the armband on, he’s a captain every week.”
Barton was involved in two incidents in Newcastle’s season opener against Arsenal on Aug. 13, which resulted in the Gunners’ Alex Song and Gervinho being suspended. He had his leg stomped on by Alex Song and then was struck in the face by Gervinho after grabbing the Arsenal winger by the shirt in a melee.
“He’s very enthusiastic,” Warnock said. “People will say one of two things about him, but they’ve said stuff about me in the past too, so I won’t worry about that.”
Barton spent 77 days in prison in 2008 after committing an assault in his native Liverpool, and was convicted of a training-ground attack on former Manchester City teammate Ousmane Dabo but was spared a jail term. Those convictions prevented him from being granted a visa to accompany Newcastle on its preseason tour of the U.S. last month.
QPR, which has a win and loss in its first two games, visits Wigan tomorrow.