Joey Barton has warned Charlie Austin that his ‘unstable’ old club Newcastle United might not be the best move for the striker.
Barton played alongside Austin at Queens Park Rangers last season and watched the hitman bag 18 goals despite the club being relegated.
Austin only has 12 months left on his contract, and has been linked with a move to Newcastle this summer.
But Barton – who famously fell out with the Magpies hierarchy before being sold in 2011 – says the ‘instability’ at Newcastle might mean Austin should look elsewhere, with Southampton, Tottenham and Aston Villa also linked with the forward.
Barton said: “I spent four years up there (at Newcastle) and it’s a fantastic place to ply your trade.
“There’s a great support base who support their team home and away.
Will they be the best opportunity for him should he decide to leave QPR? Will they provide a more stable environment for him to kick on to that next level?Joey Barton
“The only issue for him is maybe a little bit of instability going on, in and around the place.
“Will they be the best opportunity for him should he decide to leave QPR? Will they provide a more stable environment for him to kick on to that next level?
“He gets married towards the end of the month and no doubt I’ll have a conversation with him. He’s always asking questions like ‘what’s it like there’.”
The Magpies are desperate to add two strikers to their squad ahead of the new season, having struggled for goals last term.
No Newcastle player has scored 20 league goals in a season since Alan Shearer in 2004, and Austin – whose 18 goals earned him an England call-up – has been identified as their No 1 target.
Barton believes the 25-year-old is a ‘natural goalscorer’ but says he must continue to work on other parts of his game – and cited Shearer as the ideal role model for him.
“We talked a lot about how he can improve and a lot of it was about playing as a lone striker,” added Barton, who is looking for a club after being released by QPR.
“I was talking to him and saying not many of the big teams play with two strikers so you’re going to have to get better at getting hold of the ball, setting, spinning.
“You remember the way Shearer used to do in the back end of his career – if the ball would come in he’d pin it and set it and then he’d spin and be in the box looking for his goals, and I think Charlie has that capability to be able to do that.
“It’s a part of his game he’s working on because the goalscoring ability is natural – he’s a natural goalscorer, he’ll always score goals because he’s got that knack.
“The other part of his game the holding it up, the being able to play in a 4-3-3 system where you’re the lone striker and you’ve got to get team-mates into play, he’s got to improve that.”