Future of Hatem Ben Arfa in doubt following arrival of Joe Kinnear at Newcastle
Midfielder could leave St James' Park this summer
Hatem Ben Arfa's future at Newcastle United has been left in limbo after the appointment of Joe Kinnear as director of football.
The arrival of the 66-year-old and the resignation of managing director Derek Llambias has created a power struggle at St James' Park and Ben Arfa could become a casualty.
The France midfielder wants to stay at the club and talks were due to start about him extending the contract he signed when he moved to the club. Despite problems with injury, in the last two years the 26-year-old has still scored 11 goals for Newcastle from 56 starts. That form has caught the eye of both Liverpool and Monaco.
However, Kinnear might decide to cash in on the mercurial midfielder because the club owner, Mike Ashley, who has sanctioned the spending of more than £50 million in the last three transfer windows, is unlikely to agree to more new money being spent in the run-up to the new season.
Ben Arfa has only two years left on the deal he signed when he made his temporary move to Newcastle permanent in January 2011 but is on less than £40,000 a week, a figure dwarfed by the salaries of the club's top earners. He had hoped to extend and improve that contract.
However, the power struggle inside St James' Park has cast doubt over his future. Kinnear has already flexed his muscles at the club by knocking back the desire of chief scout Graham Carr to sign the Brazilian centre-half Douglas on a free transfer.
The 66-year-old Kinnear, whose return to football has caused such a stir that it was mentioned in the Houses of Parliament on Thursday, showed his new powers of control by vetoing a transfer that Carr had worked on for over a year.
That left the much-vaunted Carr questioning his future role at the club. He signed an eight-year contract this time last year and feels his position has been significantly undermined by the arrival of Kinnear.
Newcastle officials are working hard to keep the 68-year-old Geordie at St James' Park and hope they can reach a compromise where he can work with Kinnear, who has joined on a three-year contract.
Ben Arfa was a player signed on the recommendation of Carr and the scout is a huge fan, but that would not be enough to keep him at the club if Kinnear feels he is someone who can be cashed in on.
Ben Arfa's fellow France international Yohan Cabaye remains the club's most saleable asset and has been linked heavily with a move to Monaco for around £23m. However, Kinnear has claimed that the midfielder will not be sold.
St James' Park also underwent another change as refurbishment work began on Shearer's Bar. The sign bearing the surname of Newcastle's all-time top scorer was taken down and will be replaced with the name "Nine".
That it came on the same day as Shearer launched a scathing attack on the club for the week's developments was coincidental.
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