St James’ Park talisman could be on his way to St Andrews or Upton Park.
Birmingham City and West Ham United are set to battle for the signature of Newcastle United midfielder Joey Barton this summer.
The 28-year-old’s contract with the Magpies expires in 2012 and negotiations have broken down regarding an extension.
Barton is back playing his best football following a controversial few years both on and off the pitch.
Both the player and his manager Alan Pardew say they want the contract to be signed but talks stalled as Barton is questioning the ambitions of the board.
If the stalemate continues, the club will cash in on the England international rather let him leave for free in a year’s time.
Hammers manager Avram Grant thinks Barton is the ideal replacement for Scott Parker, who may leave the club at the end of the season.
Similarly Birmingham boss Alex McLeish wants Barton to come to St Andrews as Sebastian Larsson is out of contract in the summer.
Bidding would start at £5million but any deal will hinge on the two clubs avoiding relegation.