Rumors during the January transfer window are not usually quite as ridiculous as the rumors during the summer window, although they're usually good for linking clubs to players who have had a fantastic few months, or players sitting on the bench who were once wonderful. For a few months. Aston Villa typically are linked to the latter sort, apparently because tabloids think that they're the sort of club that overpays for someone who can 'make a difference' in the second half of the season. Or perhaps because it's simply easier to recycle the same Robbie Keane story rather than make up new rumors to fill the newsprint.
But what the gossip rags are on about today (and yesterday, and probably tomorrow) is the thought of Villa snapping up Joey Barton next month. Multiple reports suggest that Newcastle are ready to let Barton go for a cheap price, although why they would let go of their (arguably) best player is a question that most of these stories aren't willing to address. They're also not ready to come to terms with the fact that Aston Villa don't need a Joey Barton.
Let's think about this. Aston Villa midfielders include Barry Bannan, Jonathan Hogg, Chris Herd, Stiliyan Petrov, Nigel Reo-Coker, Fabian Delph, Robert Pires, Stephen Ireland, Steve Sidwell, and Ciaran Clark (sorta). With any luck, two of those players will be gone in January. But also with any luck, we also get three of those players back before February. That still leaves 6.5 men fighting for two positions.
Now, I know this is a tough concept for Sky Sports to grasp, but not all midfielders fill the same role. Joey Barton is a primarily attacking midfielder, meaning that he won't fix "Aston Villa's midfield injury woes", which have mostly affected the defensive midfield. See how those are two different words? Different players fill different needs. This is a concept many have yet to come to terms with. Joey Barton is a central playmaker, making him most like Barry Bannan. Why, why, why would Aston Villa want to bring in someone to replace Bazza? Outside of Marc Albrighton, he's been the most impressive young player on Villa this year. Barton may be better at the moment than Bannan, but Bannan needs time, particularly to work on his defensive play. In a season of growth and development, a club does not put their brightest young talent on the bench. And if they do, I refuse to ever give them money again.
There's also the small issue of Joey Barton being a total nutcase. I suppose he could replace, and even outdo, Stephen Ireland in that role. But with Gerard Houllier already stuck treading a sheet of thin ice, why bring an explosive personality into the mix? Aston Villa need a chance to calm down and adapt to life under Houllier. What the club does not need is more drama, more headlines, more reports centered around what happens off the pitch rather than on.
Now if someone finds a rumor about a striker that's not decrepit and knows how to find the net, or a solid defender that doesn't make fans' tummys hurt, that's a rumor I can get on board with. But that sort of rumor does not sell.