Newcastle aiming to beat Liverpool to Hatem Ben Arfa transfer

Newcastle boss Alan Pardew is hoping to make his first signing next week by completing a permanent deal for French winger Hatem Ben Arfa.

The 23-year-old, who signed on a season-long loan deal from Marseille during the summer, has been out of action since October 3 when he suffered a double leg fracture in a challenge with Manchester City's Nigel de Jong.

He had played only four games for the Magpies when misfortune struck, but showed enough to persuade them to attempt to take up an option on a permanent deal.

Ben Arfa is understood to have travelled to Tyneside to meet new manager Alan Pardew - he was brought to the club initially by Chris Hughton - and Newcastle will seek to wrap up the move early in the transfer window, which opens at the weekend.

The Magpies, who were not commenting today, were hoping to do the deal on the quiet amid reports that Liverpool too are interested in the midfielder, but news of his impending departure was circulating in France yesterday.

Hughton, who was sacked earlier this month, had planned to make a decision on Ben Arfa, who is valued at around £5million, at the end of the season.

However, his impressive early form - he scored a stunning winner at Everton on September 18 - has persuaded the club to move in January.

A successful swoop would concentrate minds on the need to secure a place in the Barclays Premier League for next season after successive defeats by Manchester City and Tottenham over Christmas left the Magpies just three points clear of the drop zone.

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