Footballer Joey Barton arrested after being punched in head in fight outside Liverpool's Garlands nightclub

Joey Barton pictured during a Premier League match in May. Photo: Adam Davy/EMPICS Sport

Premier League footballer Joey Barton has been arrested after a fight outside a nightclub.

The controversial Queens Park Rangers midfielder was involved in an altercation outside Garlands nightclub in Liverpool in which he says he was "sucker punched in the back of the head."

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I got sucker punched in the back of the head. Not injured as reported just a

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...Small bruise on rear of head/ear. I've had worse. Life goes on! Thanks for the concern. Have a good day people.

A picture of the incident, apparently showing a shirtless Barton being held back by police and a woman, appeared on Twitter.

Two men, aged 21 and from the Old Swan area of Liverpool, were arrested on suspicion of a public order offence at around 5.30am at the scene of the incident, outside Garlands nightclub in the city.

But after they were held in custody and questioned, Barton and a 20-year-old man were also arrested this afternoon.

Liverpool's Garlands nightclub seen on Google Street View. Credit: Google 2012

See Garlands nightclub on Google Street View here.

All have been bailed pending further inquiries - apart from Barton, who remains in police custody where he will be questioned by officers.

All have been bailed pending further inquiries - apart from Barton, who remains in police custody where he will be questioned by officers.

A spokesman for Merseyside Police said:

Following an altercation in Eberle Street, Liverpool city centre, in the early hours of this morning, four men have been arrested on suspicion of affray.

Two 21-year-old men were arrested at the scene in the early hours of this morning and another two men, a 20-year-old from the Liverpool area and 29-year-old from the Widnes area, were arrested this afternoon.

The two 21-year-old men and the 20-year-old man have been questioned by officers and have been released on bail pending further inquiries.

The 29-year-old man remains in police custody where he will be questioned by detectives.

Mr Barton had tweeted this afternoon to say that he would not be pressing charges:

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Not planning on pressing charges as its not that serious. The police have also got better things to do with their time.

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Can I just say a public thanks to the police last night as they were and have been today brilliant.

QPR spokesman Ian Taylor said: "Joey Barton was involved in an incident in Liverpool city centre in the early hours of Monday morning.

"Barton was on his way home from a night out with his girlfriend when two men sang offensive chants and then proceeded to hit the Rs midfielder."

News of the fight was widely commented on on Twitter, with 'Joey Barton' and 'Garlands' trending on the social media site on Monday morning.

Joey Barton clashes with Man City's Sergio Aguero after being sent off in QPR's final league game of the season. Credit: Mike Egerton/EMPICS Sport

The Liverpool-born footballer has a long history of controversy on and off the pitch and has become well-known for his opinionated tweets.

Last month he was given a 12-match ban by the Football Association after being sent off during QPR's defeat at Manchester City on the final day of the Barclays Premier League season.

He elbowed one Manchester City player, kicked out at a second and attempted to headbutt a third.

QPR are also carrying out an internal investigation into the incident.

In 2008, Barton was given a six-month jail term after admitting assault and affray during an incident in Liverpool.