The People says Wenger has finally accepted the need to inject some bite and experience into his team of perennial underachievers.
And the Newcastle bad boy's ability to tick both boxes means he is very much a candidate for the Frenchman. Wenger has been discussing Barton with senior members of his staff.
And while he was a footballing pariah when he served a jail sentence for assault in 2008, Barton is believed to have kicked his drinking habit and improved his battered reputation on and off the pitch.
Wenger must now decide whether or not to follow up his initial interest with a firm offer for Barton, who is available for around £1.5million.