Hatem Ben Arfa has been the subject of increased transfer speculation in the media in recent weeks, this coming despite his injury woes which have seen him sidelined since December aside from a brief appearance in the Europa League.
Liverpool are supposedly the most interested suitors when it comes to the services of Ben Arfa and some form of swap deal involving Andy Carroll and Hatem has been mentioned by some quarters of the press.
Whilst I wouldn’t be against a return for our former number nine, I wouldn’t want it to be at the expense of our current number ten who possesses the ability to change a game in an instant which is something we lack in general in our squad. He gives us that bit of unpredictability and I wouldn’t want to lose that. Fortunately, Hatem also seems set on staying according to his words in the local press today.
“I want to stay here,” the 26-year-old told the Gazette. “It’s only journalists who talk about that [a move]. Me and my agent haven’t talked about that. I’m focused on Newcastle – 100 per cent Newcastle – and I hope to stay here.”
“We’ve had a good Europa League tournament,” Ben Arfa added. “It’s very important for Newcastle to come back to Europe and play at a high level.”
“Everything is here. It’s a great club. We have a great squad, big ground and great fans – everybody in football knows that. It is all set up for a great future.”
“We have a great team, and I’d love to play for this team in Europe again. We won’t next season, but after that we can maybe go again and do like last year.”
It was nice to see Ben Arfa back in action last night after so long out and after it looked likely that we’d seen the last of him for the season. Granted he looked a bit rusty, which is entirely understandable after such a spell on the sidelines, but he still contributed and now he has Sunderland in his sights as the Tyne-Wear derby approaches on Sunday.
“Yes. I’m ready to play some part,” said Ben Arfa when asked about the game on Sunday.
“We know it will be a great game for everybody. It’s a great game for us, the crowd, the press – all of us. It’s going to be a great game.”
“I played well against Sunderland last season, so hopefully there is more of that.”
“Everybody in the city will talk about the Sunderland game.They won’t be talking about Benfica, they’ll be talking about Sunderland. They think it’s more important We know that and we will give all we can.”
Realistically Benny will have to make do with a spot on the bench to start with against the Mackems as indicated by Alan Pardew post-match last night. I’d expect to see the former Marseille man around the hour-mark regardless of the score and think it’s unlikely that Pardew is playing some form of game with Paulo Di Canio regarding team selection on this one.
But all in all these are good words from Benny. Our Europa League campaign might be over but at least he has the desire to get us back in there and I’m guessing that is a desire that is shared by the majority of the squad.
However they are just words at the end of the day and I’m always sceptical about reading too much into them. Would Benny be happy to stay if a regular Champions League contender came in for him? Or if a team offered to double his wage? Would the club turn down a load of cash if it was put on the table by a club who could afford to do so?
The answer is probably no to all them in truth, so for now let’s just enjoy what we have and try not to think about what may or may not happen in the future. What’s most important is now and, for the time being at least, Benny seems settled and happy here on Tyneside.