Hatem Ben Arfa will ‘explode’ at Nice after transfer setback overcome

SETBACK ... Hatem Ben Arfa.
SETBACK ... Hatem Ben Arfa.

NICE coach Claude Puel is confident there will be no last-minute setback to prevent the signing of Hatem Ben Arfa – and has backed the player to ‘explode’ back to form.

The playmaker, a free agent after his release from Newcastle, joined Le Gym last Monday but is still awaiting international clearance from FIFA due to the clause in its transfer regulations which states a player cannot play for more than two clubs in the same season.

Ben Arfa was loaned from Newcastle to Hull and made eight appearances for the Tigers before falling out of favour with manager Steve Bruce, who pulled the plug on the loan.

Article 5.3 of FIFA’s regulations on the status and transfer of players states: “Players may be registered with a maximum of three clubs during one season. During this period, the player is only eligible to play official matches for two clubs.”

The 27-year-old’s only appearances for Newcastle this season came in matches with the club’s under-21 team and, in a statement earlier in the week, Nice expressed hope that “sporting logic” would prevail.

Puel told the club’s official website: “For us, his eligibility is not in doubt.

“The English federation wrote to the French federation and to FIFA explaining that the match played by Hatem (for Newcastle) did not count towards an official competition.

“The advantages are with us and with the player. There is no reason why he will not be eligible as normal.

“We are optimistic and positive that he can return to France, return to Ligue 1 and, I hope, explode with OGC Nice.”

Whether clarification will come in time for Ben Arfa to play in Friday’s Ligue 1 clash with Bordeaux remains in doubt, but Puel said: “I hope so.

“As a coach, you have to adapt to any situation. The team showed against Lorient that they are capable, even without Hatem.”