Queens Park Rangers midfielder Joey Barton has joined Ligue 1 club Marseille on a season-long loan deal.
Barton, 29, was given a 12-match ban by the English Football Association following his sending off on the final day of last season at Manchester City, when he was involved in confrontations with Sergio Aguero and Vincent Kompany.
Barton was stripped of the QPR captaincy and not assigned a squad number for the 2012/13 campaign.
Barton expressed his delight at the move on Friday by tweeting: “I am now a player for L’OM. What a birthday present! Cannot wait to get going. #allezL’OM.”
The midfielder expressed his thanks to QPR chairman Tony Fernandes and co-owner Amit Bhatia for facilitating the move: “I would also like to thank @tonyfernandes and @Amit_Bhatia99 for making this possible. Good luck to everyone at QPR for this season.”
Cameroon international Stephane Mbia moved in the opposite direction on Friday, signing for QPR from Marseille for an undisclosed fee.
Mbia, 26, cost Marseille 10.4 million pounds when he joined them from Rennes in 2009 and becomes QPR’s 12th signing of a busy transfer window.
“He is another player that can play in a couple of positions. I like that flexibility in players. He is a good age, and we have paid a good price for him,” QPR manager Mark Hughes said.
QPR return to the Etihad Stadium to face Man City on Saturday, the scene of Barton’s dismissal and the home team’s remarkable last-minute title triumph.