Newcastle target Hatem Ben Arfa has talked to the French Daily L’Equipe, and said he will not play again for Olympique Marseille, as he tries to force through a move to Newcastle United.
Hatem Ben Arfa – currently in Newcastle
The France international has refused to train with his club since returning from International duty last Thursday, and travelled to Newcastle on Friday afternoon, where he was spotted and photographed at Newcastle Airport, and is currently holed up at a Newcastle hotel with his representatives.
He wants to be able to talk things over with the Newcastle club, but no agreement has yet been reached between the two clubs for a season long loan deal.
The Marseilles officials say they will pick up the muddled situation again tomorrow morning, to see if something can be worked out, but there is a huge chasm between the Marseilles position and that of the player and his representatives.
Newcastle have wisely kept a diplomatic silence in all of this, and will not be drawn into a public slanging match – despite some conflicting statement coming from the Marseilles President Jean-Claude Dassier last week.
But Ben Arfa told L’Equipe:
“I will not return to La Commanderie (OM’s training ground). It’s over. I am ready to not play this season. I have my pride, my dignity.”
“I am not a stop-gap. Over time, people will see that I was right. Just because we are paid does not mean we are slaves.”
The 23-year-old played for France last Wednesday evening, in new manager Laurent Blanc’s France squad, and scored a terrific long-range goal within minutes of his introduction at half-time against Norway.
Where this saga goes now we have no idea, but it’s hard for a club to keep a dissatisfied player, and we would expect common sense to reign in the end.
What needs to happen is for the two clubs, Marseilles and Newcastle, to agree to a deal, and then Ben Arfa can be signed and maybe even be available for the home game against Aston Villa next weekend.
That’s what we will be hoping for, after there has been a few days for all parties to calm down a little, and for Ben Arfa to to have enjoyed some black pudding, stottie cake and other local cuisine on Tyneside.