Mike Ashley will not allow Newcastle United star Hatem Ben Arfa to leave on the cheap

France schemer is one of a number of Newcastle stars up for sale - but United want a fee for him

Mark Runnacles/Getty Images Hatem Ben Arfa of Newcastle United
Hatem Ben Arfa of Newcastle United

Mike Ashley will not permit any of Newcastle United’s unwanted stars to leave on the cheap this summer – including Hatem Ben Arfa, who will have to be accommodated by Alan Pardew if he does not draw sufficient interest.

The Magpies are looking to clear the decks of squad players this summer and have alerted Ligue 1 clubs to the availability of several of the French players who struggled to make an impact last term.

Ashley has taken a hands-off approach so far this summer and Pardew has been given a free hand to draw up the list of players who are surplus to requirements at St James’ Park. His hit-list is understood to include Sylvain Marveaux, Ben Arfa, Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa and Gabriel Obertan – whose names have been circulated across Europe in a bid to drum up interest.

However, the Journal understands while Pardew has been free to direct squad-shaping, Ashley will not sanction cut-price moves simply to get the players off the books.

Suitors for Marveaux have been quoted a price in excess of £3million while the club do not want to make a loss on Yanga-Mbiwa, who is wanted by Bordeaux, Lille and former club Montpellier.

The club are yet to field a single serious enquiry about Ben Arfa but his value will be similar to Marveaux’s.

The only possible mitigation is he is approaching the final year of his contract so United may be prepared to do business for slightly less – depending on the offer.

The club previously allowed Joey Barton to leave on a free simply to exorcise a troublesome presence from the dressing room and they cancelled Nile Ranger’s contract last season in a similar move.

According to the noises emanating from French sources, though, there is little prospect of Newcastle slashing the price or making Ben Arfa available on a free, with Ashley reticent to allow an asset like the mercurial France forward to go for nothing.

That would leave United chief Pardew looking for a way to integrate him back into a squad split over his presence in the dressing room.

There has been interest from the Middle East – and clubs in Qatar would be willing to meet Newcastle’s asking price.

Ben Arfa wants to stay in Europe though, and his agent Michael Ouzane said earlier this week: “This is false. He remains on a one-year contract at Newcastle and Hatem has the intention to continue to play in Europe.”

United youngster Sammy Ameobi is a target for Sheffield Wednesday if Newcastle decide to allow the forward to leave before the start of the season.


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