HATEM Ben Arfa’s considering his future at Newcastle United – and could buy out the remainder of his contract.
Ben Arfa has been left out of Alan Pardew’s squad for tomorrow night’s game against Arsenal – despite declaring himself fit.
The 27-year-old insisted his omission was “not a problem” when he posted a picture of himself on the internet today.
But Jean-Jacques Bertrand, Ben Arfa’s lawyer, has told a French TV station that the forward is considering invoking FIFA’s Article 17 to buy himself out of his contract, which has a year left to run.
Bertrand also denied suggestions that the 27-year-old – who has recovered from the dead leg he suffered against Stoke City earlier this month – has been a disruptive influence behind the scenes.
Ben Arfa’s exclusion will leave fans wondering whether the France international – who was involved in heated dressing-room exchanges after the club’s defeats to Stoke and Manchester United – has kicked his last ball for the club.
United manager Pardew confirmed Ben Arfa’s availability in his pre-match Press conference on yesterday.
“Hatem’s fit,” Pardew told the Gazette. “He’s available for selection.”
Asked if Ben Arfa’s return would give him a welcome extra attacking option, Pardew simply said: “We’ve got a much stronger squad to pick from.”
Ben Arfa revealed his thoughts on his exclusion in post on his Instagram account.
“The manager didn’t pick me in the group to go to london for the game against arsenal but it is not probleme (sic) hope my team win in emirat (sic) stadium to make our fans happy,” wrote Ben Arfa.
Pardew’s decision to leave Ben Arfa angered many fans. Hundreds of comments were made on the Instagram post, many critical of Pardew, who is under intense pressure after a dismal run of results.
The hugely-talented Ben Arfa, however, has seemingly become a divisive figure in Newcastle’s dressing room, though he remains a popular figure among supporters.
Some players are understood to have questioned his workrate this season, though Bertrand has refuted talk of problems in the dressing room.
“Hatem has two possibilities,” he told beIN Sports. “Either he utilises Article 17, which is a FIFA regulation that allows after three years without an alteration to a contract with a club for that contract to be terminated. Hatem can do that this year.
“Or he could also sort his situation out with the club.
“What must not happen is that Hatem is destabilised and is made to look like it is he who is trying to leave the club.“
Pardew has previously called on Ben Arfa increase his workrate, though he has been reluctant to talk publicly about him in recent weeks.
Meanwhile, Pardew – whose side are ninth in the Premier League – admits his team has “got it all to do” at the Emirates Stadium.
A win would see fourth-placed Arsenal go four points clear of Everton, in fifth.
“Although we’ve got the return of our best players, so have they ... (Aaron) Ramsey, (Mesut) Ozil and (Santi) Cazorla,” he said.
“They’ve got Champions League (qualification) and a cup final to come.
“We’ve got it all to do, but we know in the short term for this club, a result is very important.
“The sooner it comes, the better.”