Joey Barton: My toughest midfield battles

Photo: “Manchester City vs Liverpool” by ilgiovaneWalter (Sobchak) is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

During your time in the Premier League, you played against so many top players. Who would you say were your toughest opponents?

I’m fortunate enough to have played against pretty much every household Premier League name.

“Roy Keane” by is licensed underCC BY-NC-SA 2.0

You play against them at different times so when I played against Roy Keane he was coming to the end. He wasn’t quite the box-to-box midfielder he was in his early days at Manchester United and Nottingham Forest.

He was more of a holding midfielder but phenomenal at what he did and how he adapted his game.

“Paul Scholes Testimonial 5/8/11” by jamesboyes is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Scholes was very, very hard to get to. He went places you just couldn’t go – if you went after him he’d play a pass around the corner. If you left him he would hit a 50 yard diagonal. So you were damned if you did and damned if you didn’t.

“Steven Gerrard floats in a free kick against Aston Villa for Liverpool at Anfield” by Ben Sutherland is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Gerrard obviously with his running and physicality. What a player – he could do everything.

Lampard was the best at ghosting off of you and getting goals without being a top player. You didn’t ever go ‘he’s going to get the ball and take me on’.

But his goal record at Chelsea speaks for itself and he was wonderful at what he did.

“File:Claude Makelele, staff PSG.JPG” by Liondartoisis licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0

Makelele was arguably the best number 4 in the world at the time, Vieira an absolute powerhouse. I could go on and on.

The one I was lucky enough to play against at his absolute peak was Modric at Spurs.

I remember coming off and thinking he was the best I played against in the Premier League

“luka modric” by apasciuto is licensed under CC BY 2.0

I thought he was on a different level and in the summer Real Madrid signed him.

Honestly you could tell he was at an elite level which he’s gone on to show with what he’s won.

So he would be the best individual performance I came up against.

Published by Callum McFadden

Football CFB founder. Freelance football writer & broadcaster of over 350 interviews with professional players and managers across all levels of football.

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