Former Manchester City midfielder Joey Barton has launched an attack on Everton midfielder Idrissa Gueye, describing the Senegal international as "braindead" while likening him to a child in a playground.
Gueye has garnered many admirers since joining the Merseysiders from Aston Villa in the summer of 2016. His all-action displays swiftly made him a crowd favourite at Goodison Park, though he and his teammates have struggled to put any sort of form together in what has proved to be a season to forget for the Toffees.
The powers that be at Everton hold Gueye in high regard and are hoping to tie him down to a new contract, with his current deal having just over two years left to run.
But Barton, who is serving a suspension for breaking FA betting rules on numerous occasions between 2006 and 2016, is certainly no fan of the former Lille star and was not exactly glowing with praise for his midfield partner Morgan Schneiderlin, who has come in for severe and constant criticism for his performances this season.
"Remember when kids were on the playground and they chase after the ball, and then somebody runs off because a crisp packet blows across the playground and he's braindead? That's Gueye," Barton said on talkSPORT.
"I think Schneiderlin is terrible, but it doesn't help having him alongside him because the amount of times he vacates the middle of the park. Everton fans tell me he's a good player, I can't have it."
Barton has already been involved in a war of words with Everton this season; the former Burnley and Rangers midfielder, who spent two-and-a-half months in prison in 2008 after being found guilty of common assault and affray, criticised interim manager David Unsworth over his weight, but the Everton Under-23s boss had no interest in lowering himself to the talkSPORT pundit's level and brushed off the comments in a dignified manner.
Barton's crass criticism is unjustified, but both Gueye and Schneiderlin were condemned on Saturday (3 February) after being hopelessly dominated during Everton's crushing 5-1 defeat by Arsenal, who were given the freedom of north London by Sam Allardyce's side.