Friday 21 November 2014

Ben Arfa wants to fight for future

Published 27/08/2014 | 13:16

Hatem Ben Arfa wants to fight for his place at Newcastle
Hatem Ben Arfa wants to fight for his place at Newcastle

Hatem Ben Arfa is ready to dig in his heels and reject any move away from Newcastle in the current transfer window.

Press Association Sport understands the France playmaker, forced to train with Newcastle's reserves by manager Alan Pardew, is determined to fight for his St James' Park future.

Newcastle bosses claimed Ben Arfa returned for the start of pre-season overweight, but the French midfielder looked sharp as he scored in a 5-2 reserve-team victory over Reading on Monday.

Ben Arfa's contract expires next summer and Newcastle are keen to offload the 27-year-old, with Pardew deeming him surplus to requirements.

The 13-cap France star is understood to favour battling to win back favour at Newcastle over any transfer.

Ben Arfa has previously been a target for Newcastle's Premier League rivals Tottenham and Liverpool, but interest has waned in this transfer window.

Lyon are thought to have expressed their interest to Newcastle, but Ben Arfa is not keen on leaving the Premier League or returning to his first senior club.

Ben Arfa joined Newcastle in 2010 and established himself as one of the most creative forces at St James' Park, but his relationship with current boss Pardew remains strained at best.

Ben Arfa, who has been frustrated with Newcastle's intimations he has been unfit and overweight, is confident he has proved his fitness.

Newcastle laboured to a 1-0 victory over Sky Bet League One side Gillingham in the Capital One Cup second round on Tuesday night.

The Magpies claimed their first goal of the new season, but even that was an own goal from Gillingham's John Egan.

The former Sunderland defender turned the ball into his own net to hand Pardew's men their first win of the new campaign, but still none of Newcastle's players are off the mark.

Newcastle lost 2-0 at home to champions Manchester City on the season's opening day before grinding out a 0-0 stalemate at Aston Villa last weekend.

New strike duo Siem de Jong and Emmanuel Riviere failed to click at Gillingham, while Yoann Gouffran could not find the net at Villa Park.

The Magpies craved the kind of defence-unlocking creativity that is Ben Arfa's speciality in Kent and have lacked spark so far this term.

Boss Pardew admitted his side must find their attacking feet and fast to jump-start their league campaign, but it looks as though that will still unfold without Ben Arfa's assistance.

Pardew revealed he could turn to teenager Rolando Aarons for Saturday's home clash with Crystal Palace after the 18-year-old impressed at Gillingham.

"He typifies what Newcastle crowd want to see, taking people on and making things happen," said Pardew of the Jamaica-born winger.

"There's a good chance he could play on Saturday the way he played."

Newcastle signed Aarons from Bristol City in 2012, with Pardew revealing the flighty winger has edged ahead of home-grown youngster Adam Armstrong during the summer.

"He came into our academy quite late and he started showing a few signs at the back-end of last year," said Pardew on Aarons.

"Probably he was behind Armstrong at that stage, though he's just edged above him this pre-season.

"We've got two offensive players coming through the academy and if they can crack it in the first team that would be very lucky for us.

"Because it's very difficult to get offensive players through your academy."

Press Association

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