Celtic turn Joey Barton's claim on its head and suggest it was he that wanted to join them

He has since joined Rangers for an already eventful period

Joey Barton

Image: Jeff Holmes / PA Archive/Press Association Images

Celtic's chief executive has denied Joey Barton's claim that the Glasgow club tried to sign him prior to his move to Old Firm rivals Rangers this summer.

In his new autobiography No Nonsense, the controversial midfielder who is currently banned from Rangers training after a row following a recent derby defeat to Celtic, he claims he was approached by "an agent, who had been contacted by Peter Lawwell, Celtic’s chief executive".

He says the agent got straight to the point and wanted to ascertain whether Barton would have any interest in moving to the other side of Glasgow rather than Rangers.

In an in-depth interview with The Guardian, the veteran player said that the move didn't happen because he was "never going to change my mind and let down Rangers".

But the aforementioned Celtic chief executive Lawwell has poured cold water on Barton's claims.

"I think Joey's been had by a bit of a matchmaker here. I remember it well, we had just announced Brendan [Rodgers] as our new manager and I was with our company secretary in London at the time," said Lawwell in a statement.

"An agent called me saying that Joey was going to sign for Rangers but he would really prefer to come to Celtic and were we interested in signing him, but it wasn't something we wanted to pursue."

Aside from his ban by Rangers, Barton is also being investigated by Scottish football officials for allegedly breaking betting rules.

The 34-year-old is being probed by the Scottish Football Association and the Gambling Commission over claims he bet on Celtic suffering a heavy defeat to Barcelona last Tuesday.