Joey Barton has paid tribute to his former Newcastle United teammate Cheick Tiote after his death on Monday.
The Ivorian passed away at the age of 30 after collapsing at the end of a training session with Chinese Super League Beijing Entreprises.
Writing in his column for the Times, Barton mentions that the midfielder was very influential both on and off the pitch during his spell at St James’ Park and he believes that Tiote had all the attributes to play at the top level.
“He wasn’t just a wonderful team-mate to have on the pitch but such a lovely man off it too,” he said.
“I was convinced that Cheick would end up at a top Champions League club.
“There was talk of him going to Chelsea and I could see him right in there, a bit of Claude Makélélé and Michael Essien combined. He was definitely good enough.”
Tiote joined Newcastle at the beginning of the 2010-11 campaign and he played alongside Barton in the midfield for just that one season.
The Magpies enjoyed an impressive campaign as they finished in 12th place in their first season back in the Premier League.
Both men were heavily involved in the unforgettable 4-4 draw against Arsenal at St James’ Park where the Tyneside team recovered from a 4-0 deficit at half-time to earn a incredible result.
The Englishman scored twice from the penalty spot and Tiote scored a spectacular equaliser in the final minutes of the match.
The Ivorian made 156 appearances in all competitions for Newcastle during his seven-year spell at the club.
He also made 55 appearances for the Ivory Coast national team enjoying African Cup of Nations success in 2015.