Alex McLeish: "We'll keep our best players and Seb certainly comes into that category."
Newcastle have again been testing the water, but although they would dearly love to offer Barton in exchange, the deal has been laughed at in the Midlands.
Birmingham can well do without the hassle of a player who has been a liability all his career, and Barton insists he wants to stay at Newcastle because he picks up £65,000 a week. A figure well beyond Birmingham's reach.
Newcastle have given up the chance to dump the former England international, insisting they see him as a future star.
But rumour suggests they would take any half-decent offer.