Hatem Ben Arfa seeks fresh start in France as he nears Nice loan move

Sport360 staff 18:45 03/01/2015
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Home sweet home: Hatem Ben Arfa will return to France to join Nice on an 18-month long contract.

French midfielder Hatem Ben Arfa will look to reignite his career in Nice after the Ligue 1 side announced Saturday he would join the club on what could be an 18-month long contract.

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The 27-year-old, who has clashed with coaches at a succession of clubs, is currently on Newcastle’s books but has been on loan with Hull City this season without establishing himself in Steve Bruce’s side.

His loan spell at the KC Stadium was cut short and Newcastle have made it clear there is no further role for home at St James’ Park, opening up the prospect of a return to France.

“OGC Nice have reached an agreement in principle with Hatem Ben Arfa. The France international will have a medical on Monday prior to signing with Le Gym,” the club said on its website, adding that he had trained with his new teammates on Saturday.

Sources close to the Cote d’Azur side said that the length of the contract would likely be 18 months.

Ben Arfa, who emerged as one of France’s most promising players early in his career with Lyon and Marseille, won the last of his 13 caps for France at Euro 2012.

Widely regarded as the most talented of a group of promising players, dubbed “Generation 87”, which included Karim Benzema, Samir Nasri and Jeremy Menez, Ben Arfa often had difficultly complying with team discipline.

He clashed with successive coaches — Gerard Houllier at Lyon, Eric Gerets and Didier Deschamps at Marseille, Alan Pardew at Newcastle — despite winning four Ligue 1 titles with Lyon, one with Marseille, and being named the most promising Ligue 1 player in 2008.

Despite his international career starting on a high with a goal on his first call up against the Faroe Islands in October 2007, he also fell out with national bosses.

His final France match was under Laurent Blanc during Euro 2012 when he received a warning from the French Football Federation after a post-match bust-up with the coach.

Ben Arfa joined Hull on a season-long loan from Newcastle United in the summer, but failed to make an impact in his nine Premier League appearances.

He also had a strained relationship with Bruce who reportedly was unhappy with Ben Arfa’s lack of work ethic at training.

He subsequently returned to Paris and was training on his own, fuelling speculation that he was looking for a return to France.

Nice are currently in 11th place in Ligue 1 just three points clear of the relegation zone.

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