​Former Newcastle and Manchester City midfielder Joey Barton knows a thing or two about drama at St James' Park after years of causing trouble on and off the pitch, and the former England international believes manager Rafa Benitez could sensationally leave before Christmas.

Speaking to ​Kick Off, the 34-year-old who is currently without a club has gone on record to say that his previous side could lose the respected Spanish manager because of owner Mike Ashley's handling of the Magpies.

“Newcastle is a great club, but the owner causes a lot of problems," claimed Barton. "It’s his way or the highway. I can’t see Benitez staying there until Christmas.

“Ashley’s interview on TV was silly because it draws everybody in and makes it a soap opera because Rafa has to responded and has to take a side."

After the 2-0 home defeat to Tottenham which saw captain Jonjo Shelvey sent off after a reckless stamp, a lack of transfer activity and failure to support the former Liverpool boss off the pitch has resulted in many reports suggesting Benitez could move on. 

Barton believes it will only be a matter of time, after failing to land a number of targets following disagreements over player purchases. 

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“I believe Benitez wants to go," added Barton. "His body language says Ashley has not come through with what he wanted this summer, and that means he feels he won’t have the opportunity to establish Newcastle in the top half of the Premier League.”

With Ashley allegedly considering offers to sell the club he has owned since 2007, if the right consortium comes in to help the club build for the future, Benitez could wait to see how the club evolves over the next six months before making a decision.