Joey Barton names Bristol Rovers price for Aaron Collins - as Burnley comparisons made

Aaron Collins is the joint-top scorer in League One - so how much do Bristol Rovers value him?

Last season’s Aaron Collins picked up where he left off.  (Photo by Harry Trump/Getty Images)
Last season’s Aaron Collins picked up where he left off.  (Photo by Harry Trump/Getty Images)
Last season’s Aaron Collins picked up where he left off. (Photo by Harry Trump/Getty Images)

Bristol Rovers have slapped a £5m price tag on talisman Aaron Collins after the January transfer window opened. The Gas is one of the leading players in League One and could be tested over the course of this month, which is something Joey Barton is relishing.

No speculation has been made over Collins’ leaving the Memorial Stadium this January, but before the window opened, Barton was expecting there to be interet. The 25-year-old continued his stellar campaign as he scored his 13th goal of the season, and also reached double figures in assists after supplying Josh Coburn against Cheltenham Town.

Rovers are 10th in League One, and are just four points off the play-offs, as they try to maintain a push to extend their season. The original goal was to survive by achieving 52 points, but they are well in the mix and Collins is the contributing factor behind that. The former Newport County striker has had a whirlwind 18-months, where he struggled to score in League Two to now going toe-to-toe with Jonson Clarke-Harris, another prolific front man for Rovers in recent seasons.

In previous years, Rovers have made similar pushes, but have hamstrung themselves by selling their better players. Matt Taylor was sold to bitter rivals Bristol City on Deadline Day in January 2017, which stopped any momentum of a play-off push.

"We want our players to do well, we want teams chapping the door to try and buy our players," he said. "It’s a sign of success, it’s a sign of progress and the good thing is because of the way we are we’ve got contractual security.

"In the past, the case has been you get a bid for a player, it maybe unsettles. Aaron is really happy, I don’t think there is any ambition from him to move in January. Players don’t tend to move in January. It’s not to say someone in the Championship might not come and offer us a fee we can’t turn down."

Scott Twine, who excelled for MK Dons last year, was the benchmark for what Barton believes that Rovers can command. Twine in his first season in the third tier got 20 goals and 13 assists over 47 matches for the Dons, and was bought by Vincent Kompany’s Burnley.

Under Barton and Andy Mangan, who has worked extensively with Collins on the training, with Wael al-Qadi fully supportive of the 40-year-old, there is no need for Collins to depart, especially when he is under contract until the summer of 2025. Portsmouth were said to have been looking at him in the summer, but rather than entertaining a departure, he put pen to paper on a new deal, with his feelings expected to stay the same.

Barton, who is contracted at Rovers until 2026, wants to take the club to the second tier, and wants Collins to be a part of that, but admitted that Collins will play in the Championship for the first time in his career, either in the blue and white quarters, or with a different club.

"We’ve got a very wealthy owner, I can’t see Wael wanting to get rid of him, sell him or cash in on him," Barton added. "Again if someone comes for him, if Scott Twine went to Burnley for £5m last year from MK Dons, you’re talking those kind of numbers. It’s the reality, and that will be meaning Azza will be getting a few million quid in his pocket over the course of his contract, it’s a win win for everybody.

"This time 12 months ago he just started finding his feet and you can move a long space in a period in this game. He’s a talisman for our team, and at some point, he will either improve and get in the Championship with us, or someone will buy him to play in the Championship. He is a player that is showing at the moment that he is capable of playing at a higher level."