Top five training ground meltdowns including Balotelli, Zlatan and Joey Barton

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The training ground is supposed to be a place for learning and preparation, but it's not always like that – sometimes things boil over.

Putting a bunch of competitive – and, let's face it overpaid – young men together in such an intense environment five days a week can lead not only to disagreements, but meltdowns of epic proportions.

From clashes over form, to personal issues and everything else in between, football has seen its fair share of training ground bust-ups – and the results are often brutal.

Daily Star Sport take a look back at five of the biggest training ground disputes, starting with that man Joey Barton.

Joey Barton vs Ousmane Dabo

Ousmane Dabo said he was left looking like the 'Elephant Man' after being attacked by Manchester City team-mate Barton during a training ground altercation in May 2007.

The French midfielder suffered head injuries, including a detached retina, and was left requiring hospital treatment.

Given the seriousness of the clash, it even went to court, where after initially pleading not guilty to assault, Barton changed his plea to guilty and received a four-month suspended jail sentence plus 200 hours of community service.

He was also hit by the FA with 12-match ban – six of which were suspended – and a £25,000 fine.

Do you remember any other famous training ground bust-ups? Let us know in the comments section.

Years later in 2012, Barton did not take kindly to being called a 'liar' and 'coward' by Dabo.

Barton tweted: "I see Dabo is yet to move on, I feel for him. What happened was unfortunate. Next time he should think twice about throwing his weight about.

"If Ousmane wants to come to a Marseille game, have dinner and discuss it like adults, he’s more than welcome anytime. For me now, its over!"

John Hartson vs Eyal Berkovic

Perhaps the most infamous training ground bust-up of the Premier League era, West Ham team-mates John Hartson and Eyal Berkovic came to blows in September 1998.

The Israeli midfielder threw a punch at Hartson following a bad tackle in training, and the striker responded by kicking his colleague in the face.

Even worse for the Welshman, the whole thing was caught on camera, leading to widespread newspaper coverage in the days that followed.

Speaking to talkSPORT in 2020, Hartson expressed his deep regret and remorse at the incident: "The pictures are there for everybody to see and I don’t know why I was aggressive but obviously I don’t know why I did that reaction and it’s the biggest regret of my life. I should never have done it," he said.

"I brought a lot of shame on my family and my mum and dad were down in Wales and people were knocking on their door.”

Hartson was fined £20,000 for the incident and handed a three-match ban, which he served following a move to Wimbledon.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic vs Oguchi Onyewu

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Zlatan Ibrahimovic isn't one to shy away from confrontation, but the Swedish maverick met his match in AC Milan team-mate Oguchi Onyewu.

Ibrahimovich said the former Newcastle man – who "people said was the nicest guy in the world" – antagonised him, accusing him of "trash-talking" to opponents during matches.

Onyewu informed him he wouldn't be "psyched out," so the pair brawled instead.

Speaking in his book I Am Zlatan Ibrahimovich, he said: "I head-butted him, and then we flew at each other. I'm not talking about a little scrap. We wanted to tear each other limb from limb. It was brutal.

"We were two guys who each weighed over 14 stone, and we were rolling round, punching and kneeing each other, and, of course, the whole team rushed over and tried to separate us."

It later turned out that Ibrahimovic had broken a rib during the fight. Oneyewu never played for the Italian giants again and was sold at the end of the season.

Mario Balotelli vs Roberto Mancini

As training ground bust-ups go, this one was pretty tame, but it still deserves a place on our list for featuring a rare player vs manager confrontation.

Mario Balotelli, who isn't renowned for his skills of judgement, went in hard on team-mate Scott Sinclair, provoking a furious reaction from Roberto Mancini.

The usually cool, calm and collected Italian tried to drag Balotelli off the pitch single-handedly, but to little avail.

Mancini sold the star to AC Milan later that month, and recently revealed his disappointment at the downward trajectory of Balotelli's career.

He said: "Clearly, it was disappointing for all of us who knew him as a person and a player that in the last five or six years he was unable to do what he was capable of doing."

Andy Carroll vs Steven Taylor

There must be something in the water up on Tyneside, because after Kieron Dyer and Lee Bowyer duked it out on the pitch in 2005, Andy Carroll and Steven Taylor had a go at Newcastle's training ground in 2010.

This fight was much more serious, though. Taylor suffered a suspected jaw broken, while Carroll is believed to have had an operation on his hand.

The defender lasted another six years in the north east, while Carroll's impressive form saw him join Liverpool for £30million in 2011.

  • Manchester City FC
  • West Ham FC
  • Newcastle United FC
  • Zlatan Ibrahimovic
  • Premier League

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