Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Magpies Closer to Deal for Ben Arfa; Marseille Chief Accepts Offer

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Magpies Closer to Deal for Ben Arfa; Marseille Chief Accepts Offer

Article excerpt

Byline: Luke Edwards

NEWCASTLE United have revived hope of securing the signing of French international Hatem Ben Arfa after edging closer to an agreement with Marseille.

Although United insist negotiations are still ongoing, the president of Marseille Jean-Claude Dassier revealed yesterday they have decided to accept Newcastle's loan offer.

The deal will see Ben Arfa join the Magpies on a season's loan with a view to them buying the 23-year-old on a permanent basis if he plays 25 games. Nevertheless, Newcastle will still have to reach an agreement with the player, whose wage demands may still derail the deal with just five days of the transfer window remaining.

Dassier, who has also been in similar talks with Germany's Werder Bremen, said: "The English club have finally agreed to buy Ben Arfa if he plays in 25 games and they pay 5% to Fifa.

"We are going to reply and then the ball is in Hatem's court. We need to finish this story as quickly as possible."

Whether Ben Arfa will be willing to accept the financial package on offer at St James's Park remains to be seen, and boss Chris Hughton reacted to the announcement from France yesterday with typical caution.

United's manager has played his cards close to his chest all summer regarding the club's progress in the transfer market and he refused to say anything more when contacted by The Journal other than he was aware of the player and the speculation surrounding him.

In private, Newcastle have continued to talk to Marseille, despite the protracted and frustrating nature of the negotiations, and are confident Ben Arfa (pic-tured below) would prefer to play in the Premier League than Germany's Bundesliga.

Hughton, though, has been urged not to give anything away regarding transfers by the club's hierarchy, who are desperate to keep as much as they can secret for as long as possible. …

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