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Newcastle ready to open Ben Arfa contract talks
NEWCASTLE UNITED officials are ready to meet Hatem Ben Arfa and his representatives to discuss the possibility of a new contract.
Ben Arfa’s current deal is due to expire at the end of next season, and Newcastle owner Mike Ashley is keen to ensure the French winger is not allowed to enter the final year of his contract with his long-term future still uncertain.
At one stage, there were plans to initiate contract talks during the summer break, but a lack of negotiating opportunities meant things were temporarily placed on hold.
However, there is a shared desire to make progress before the end of the year, with Ben Arfa’s importance having increased after a transfer window that saw Newcastle fail to make a single permanent signing.
Liverpool and Paris St Germain have been strongly linked with Ben Arfa in the past, and while neither club made a formal approach before the transfer window closed at the start of the month, there is an acceptance that the Magpies will become increasingly vulnerable to an approach as the end of the 26-year-old’s contract draws near.
Ben Arfa has scored ten goals in 48 Premier League games since making a permanent move from Marseille in January 2011, and while his time on Tyneside has not been without its ups and downs, he is increasingly regarded as the club’s leading asset.
His importance was underlined by the 86th-minute strike that earned Newcastle their first league win of the season against Fulham, and Alan Pardew would benefit from his future being sorted as quickly as possible in order to avoid the type of fevered speculation that led to Yohan Cabaye making himself unavailable for selection at the start of the campaign.
There is no suggestion that Ben Arfa shares his compatriot’s desire to leave the North-East, but Pardew, Ashley and director of football, Joe Kinnear, will be keen to tie the winger to the same kind of long-term deal that was successfully negotiated with Fabricio Coloccini and Tim Krul. Whether that means a raise in wage payments, however, remains to be seen.
Pardew is also pondering whether to release any of his players on loan after receiving inquiries about a number of fringe performers ahead of the opening of the Football League loan window later today.
Gabriel Obertan, Haris Vuckic and Gael Bigirimana are all likely to be made available for loan moves, along with striker Adam Campbell, who is back on Tyneside after a brief unsuccessful spell at Carlisle United.
Obertan has been strongly linked with Nottingham Forest, while Vuckic trained with League One Bradford City last month and could return to Valley Parade.
Pardew is aware of strong interest in Sammy Ameobi, but after spending the second half of last season at Middlesbrough, the forward is unlikely to be sent back out on loan this term.
Ameobi has been involved in three of Newcastle’s four matches this season, and Pardew envisages him playing a much bigger role in first-team affairs during the rest of the campaign.
Meanwhile, Bafetimbi Gomis has claimed his proposed move to St James’ Park collapsed when Newcastle’s negotiating team moved the goalposts over his wages.
Newcastle agreed a fee of around £8m with Lyon for the France international, but despite Lyon president Jean-Michel Aulas desperately trying to push through the transfer, talks broke down towards the end of the transfer window.
At the time, it was thought the demands of Gomis’ representatives had scuppered the deal. The striker, however, claims he pulled the plug when Newcastle’s negotiating party, which is likely to have been led by Kinnear, asked him to reduce his wage demands.
“I had a talk with Newcastle's coach and we found an agreement,” said Gomis. “Then there were talks with Lyon. There was a first offer, which was refused, and then a second one, which was accepted.
“Newcastle then came back to me and asked me to make an effort on wages - but I never asked anything as it was my club which wanted to transfer me, so the effort had to be made by Newcastle or Lyon."
* The Wear-Tyne derby between Sunderland and Newcastle United at the Stadium of Light on Sunday, October 27 has been brought forward to 1.30pm. The game will still be shown live on Sky Sports.
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