Joey Barton’s French renaissance continued to flourish on Thursday night after the player scored for Marseilles during their 2-2 draw with Borussia Monchengladbach in the UEFA Europa League.
Barton, who signed for the club on loan over the summer, is still serving out his 12-match domestic league suspension handed to him following events on the final game of last season when playing for QPR.
Many pundits criticised Joey for departing British shores over the summer, viewing his move to Marseille as exile rather than a bona fide attempt to rehabilitate his footballing career.
Well, after four Europa League games in a Marseilles shirt, Barton certainly seems to be proving his doubters wrong. The 30-year-old played a pivotal role in Marseille eking out a 2-2 draw away to Fenerbahce in their first group game, before picking up a characteristic booking versus AEL Limassol on his home debut.
Although Marseilles didn’t really turn up for in their away defeat to Monchengladbach, their performance in the reverse leg at home more than made up for their misgivings – especially Barton’s.
His goal came when Marseilles needed it most: one down heading into the second half. The Englishman netted direct from a corner kick, inswinging the ball over goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen and into the far top corner. The Stade Velodrome erupted and Barton’s celebration – careering down the touchline pointing at the bench – said it all.
Joey clearly loves his new lease of life in France and with his domestic suspension soon to be lifted can expect more appearances in a Marseilles shirt before his loan spell expires. The coastal club are level on points at the top of Ligue 1 but the football odds have them as outsiders for the title given the tough run of fixtures ahead of them.
However, with Barton set to return very soon, fans will be hopeful they can push on past PSG and Lyon before the Christmas break.