JOEY Barton last night committed his future to Newcastle after a busy day on Tyneside.
The 24-year-old Manchester City midfielder is understood to have put pen to paper on a five-year deal at St James' Park after the Magpies fended off competition from West Ham to clinch his 5.5 million signing.
Barton's capture came after Sam Allardyce beat Hammers manager Alan Curbishley to the punch and, during talks at the club's Darsley Park training headquarters in the afternoon, persuaded him he could fulfil his potential at Newcastle.
With agent Willie McKay conducting negotiations with chairman Freddy Shepherd down the road at St James' Park, the player headed off for a medical and was then ready to return home to mull over the offer.
However, it is understood he was so impressed with what he saw and heard that he turned around and went straight back to the stadium to sign a deal which is thought to amount to around 70,000 a week.
Barton's capture is likely to have a knock-on effect for the Hammers, who should now be able to complete their own move for Newcastle skipper Scott Parker. That deal has been on ice for several days with Allardyce unwilling to sanction it until he had a ready-made replacement safely on board.
Barton will arrive once again having to answer his critics after his training ground bust-up with City team-mate Ousmane Dabo, but his pedigree is in no doubt.
Last night's development came after an eventful day on Tyneside when it also emerged that Middlesbrough striker Mark Viduka has agreed in principle to join the club.
Meanwhile, West Ham skipper Nigel Reo-Coker is set to join Aston Villa for 7 million, while
striker Marlon Harewood is also leaving Upton Park. Manchester City and Wigan are two of the clubs already showing an interest in the forward.