Hatem Ben Arfa signs permanent deal with Newcastle

Hatem Ben Arfa today became Newcastle boss Alan Pardew's first signing after his season-long loan move became permanent.

The 23-year-old Frenchman has signed a four-and-a-half-year deal after the Magpies agreed an undisclosed fee with Marseille.

Ben Arfa has been out of action since suffering a double leg fracture in a challenge with Manchester City midfielder Nigel de Jong in October, but showed enough in his four appearances for the club before that to persuade them of his ability.

He said: "I am absolutely delighted to be signing for Newcastle United on a permanent basis.

"During my short time at the club, I thoroughly enjoyed playing for the team and for the supporters too. This is a great club and I am very happy to be committing my future to them.

"I am getting back to fitness as quickly as I can and am really looking forward to getting back to St James' Park, seeing the lads again and working with Alan Pardew and his staff.

"During my time out, I have been inundated with messages of support from fans and I want to repay them all with good performances on the pitch later this season."

Pardew, who has moved quickly to tie up a man initially recruited by predecessor Chris Hughton amid reported interest from other parties, was delighted to have made an early breakthrough as he targets offensive reinforcements.

The manager said: "When I came to the club last month, one of my priorities was to secure Hatem on a permanent deal.

"The last thing I wanted was for us to lose him when his loan ended, so we are really pleased to have agreed that deal today.

"He's obviously a top player and he's shown that in France, at international level and in his short time here at Newcastle.

"I'm delighted to secure Hatem as my first signing and once he's back fit, I have no doubt he will confirm just what a superb player he is."

Ben Arfa, a graduate of the famous French academy at Clairefontaine, made his debut as a substitute in the 2-0 Barclays Premier League defeat by Blackpool at St James' Park on September 11, but made his mark a week later with a stunning winner at Everton.

Direct and pacy, he is seen as a major supply line to star striker Andy Carroll and his colleagues once he returns from his injury, which could happen as early as next month as his recovery continues apace.

Meanwhile, Press Association Sport understands Tottenham have tested the water over their interest in 21-year-old England international Carroll, but have been told he is simply not for sale.

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