Alan Pardew still to assess Hatem Ben Arfa

ALAN Pardew will next week sit down for a heart-to-heart talk with Hatem Ben Arfa to discover whether the Frenchman’s Euro 2012 nightmare has badly affected him.

Newcastle United's Hatem Ben Arfa
Newcastle United's Hatem Ben Arfa

ALAN Pardew will next week sit down for a heart-to-heart talk with Hatem Ben Arfa to discover whether the Frenchman’s Euro 2012 nightmare has badly affected him.

The Newcastle United playmaker had hoped to enhance his reputation at the tournament after a sensational season with the Magpies, but instead made only one start and had a blazing row with coach Laurent Blanc.

Ben Arfa (pictured right) and fellow countryman Yohan Cabaye are due to report back to Newcastle at the end of next week, having been given extra time off to recover from the championship in Poland and Ukraine.

Pardew will speak to Ben Arfa as soon as he can to find out what really happened during the reported row with Blanc, following a 2-0 defeat by Sweden, and if there is any lingering ill-feeling.

The now former French coach – Blanc has recently been replaced by Didier Deschamps – admitted at the time that “things got a bit heated” as the Newcastle No 10 allegedly found himself in trouble for using a mobile phone before a team meeting.

And it then escalated with the 25-year-old, who was substituted during the game after a below-par performance, allegedly telling Blanc at the height of the row to send him home after making the point that some of his team-mates had played worse than him.

Pardew said: “I haven’t really studied what went on with France at the Euros and I won’t get the real version until I speak to Hatem.

“He doesn’t come back until a lot later in pre-season because he and Yohan need some rest.

“Certainly, I will have a conversation with him because I want him to pick up where he left off for us, which was in a good place.”

Ben Arfa didn’t feature in France’s quarter-final defeat by Spain and, to make

matters worse, could face disciplinary action from the country’s football federation, along with Samir Nasri, Yann M’Vila and Jeremy Menez, all of whom had problems during the tournament.

Manchester City midfielder Nasri found himself in hot water following a row with a journalist after the loss to eventual champions Spain.

Pardew was a constant cheerleader for Ben Arfa towards the end of last season and was desperate to see his man flourish on the international scene.

But the appointment of Deschamps does not bode well for Ben Arfa as the two had a fractious relationship when they worked together at Marseille.

Ben Arfa actually went on strike ahead of his move to Newcastle in the summer of 2010 as he felt the French club were being obstructive to what, for him, was a dream move to a Premier League side.

At the time Ben Arfa said: “When he (Deschamps) talks to me, I always have the feeling that there is something else going on inside his head. The coach can say what he wants, it’s over.”

Meanwhile, Newcastle target – and Ben Arfa’s France team-mate – Mathieu Debuchy has been offered a new and improved contract by Lille. Club president Michel Seydoux told the French media yesterday that he will do everything he can to keep the £6million-rated right-back, who is also wanted by Inter Milan – or at least make sure they get a top price for such a prize asset.

Pardew was unaware of Debuchy’s new deal when he met the media on Wednesday and said that it was “hypothetical” to suggest he would now turn his attention to another right-back because he has been unaware of the French star’s position.

Newcastle’s pre-season campaign has at long last been finalised.

United, who fly out this morning, will play German third division side Chemnitzer at the Stadion an der Gellertstrasse tonight before heading for a training camp in Munich.

They will then face former Chelsea manager Claudio Ranieri’s Monaco at the Hacker-Pschorr-Arena in Landsberg am Lech, near Munich, on Monday, and then face a final match in Hungary on Saturday, July 21, against Turkish giants Fenerbahçe at the Stadium Sopron.

The first-team squad will take part in the Guadiana Torneo in Portugal, along with Braga and Olympiacos, at the Algarve Stadium, near Faro, later in the month. Newcastle and Braga, who include former United midfielder Hugo Viana in their ranks, meet on the night of Saturday, July 28.


David Whetstone
Culture Editor
Graeme Whitfield
Business Editor
Mark Douglas
Newcastle United Editor
Stuart Rayner
Sports Writer