Hughton chases new signings

CHRIS Hughton is confident of at least one transfer breakthrough as the clock ticks down to Newcastle United's Premier League opener at Old Trafford.

And there might even be two new faces on Hughton's playing staff by the time the club takes on Manchester United a week today.

Hughton is hopeful of landing Olympique Marseille winger Hatem Ben Arfa, pictured, who will travel to Tyneside on Thursday if on-going negotiations are successful.

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The two clubs are locked in talks over the loan fee, with the French club looking for a payment of 700,000 for a season-long deal.

Marseille president Jean-Claude Dassier confirmed over the weekend that Ben Arfa – who has been called up to the France squad for Wednesday's friendly against Norway – is close to joining Newcastle, and the 23-year-old is ready to travel to England after his international involvement in Oslo.

Hughton – whose side ended their pre-season campaign with a 2-1 defeat at Rangers on Saturday – is also pursuing other targets.

Asked if there could be new faces in his squad ahead of the Old Trafford opener, Hughton told the Gazette: "I hope so – we're striving all of the time for that.

"But it's difficult. It's the same market as other teams. It's trying to bring the right player in at the right price.

"These are different days. A few years ago, Newcastle would have been able to bring in players of bigger values."

Meanwhile, Ben Arfa appeared to say goodbye to Marseille's fans after coming off the bench to set up the club's goal in Saturday's 2-1 defeat to ex-United defender Franck Dumas's Caen.

"The supporters of Marseille have always been behind me and I appreciate them very much – I thank them," said Ben Arfa.

"The Premier League, for me, is one of those elite championships, like Italy, Spain or Germany."