Magpies swoop for Ben Arfa
Newcastle United have signed France midfielder Hatem Ben Arfa on a season-long loan from Marseille.
The 23-year-old signed on the dotted line after weeks on negotiations between the two clubs to become Chris Hughton's fifth summer capture, with a view to making the transfer permanent.
Ben Arfa, who is a product of the famous academy at Clairefontaine and has eight senior caps for his country, travelled to Tyneside earlier this month in an attempt to clinch a move, but returned to France with the clubs unable to agree terms.
He finally got his wish a day after Côte d'Ivoire international Cheik Tiote joined the Premier League club. While he will not figure against Wolverhampton Wanderers today, he could make his debut against Blackpool in the club's next Premier League game.
Ben Arfa said: "It was always my first choice to come here and I'm delighted to be here. I have paid real attention to the history of the club and the great players to have played for it, and particularly the supporters, and I want to showcase my skills in Newcastle.
"All I'm waiting for is to show what I can do in front of the public in Newcastle. A lot of my friends in France already know the fans' reputation. The stadium has an ambience that is unique and I feel very lucky to have his opportunity."
Ben Arfa's signing delighted Hughton, who has had to try to strengthen his squad for life in the Premier League on a limited budget.
He has now added James Perch, Sol Campbell, Dan Gosling, Tiote and Ben Arfa to the group of players who won the Championship title last season, and hopes to keep defender Steven Taylor, who was this week transfer-listed after protracted contract talks failed to come to fruition.
Hughton said: "Hatem is a player who we have been tracking for a long time, and what is important is that he is not only a young player who should continue to improve, but somebody who already has a great reputation in the game.
"We think he will add flair to the squad and we are confident he will fit in well with the team that we have put together here. He will, I am sure, prove to be a great addition.
"He won't be available to face Wolves at the weekend, but he will come into my thinking for the next game at home to Blackpool. He's someone who will excite the fans here, who of course have always identified with skilful, attacking players."
Managing director Derek Llambias was also thrilled to have at last made the breakthrough in negotiations. He said: "It has taken a lot of hard work behind the scenes to bring in a player of Hatem's quality, but we really are delighted that he is now here. His signing, along with that of Cheik Tiote, shows our commitment to bringing international class players to St James' Park."