In news first reported by The Times on Thursday (subscription needed) and relayed by French newspaper L'Equipe in their Friday print edition, Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich has made signing Newcastle winger Hatem Ben Arfa one of his main priorities this summer.
Abramovich, who has entered the current offseason with the intent of infusing youth into his aging side and improving the attacking ranks—deals for Eden Hazard (21), Marko Marin (23) and Kevin de Bruyne (20) have already been finalized—fell under the charm of Ben Arfa during Chelsea's May 2 match against the Magpies at Stamford Bridge, when the winger played a crucial role in his side's 2-0 victory.
Ben Arfa, still only 25 and under contract until 2015, made a habit of coming up big under the brightest lights, enjoying a terrific season at St. James' Park.
He tallied seven goals in 34 league matches and became one of the most important reasons behind Newcastle's surprise fifth-place finish in the league.
Abramovich is believed to be readying a £18 million swoop for the Frenchman, currently at the European Championships in Poland and Ukraine.
Ben Arfa is reported to be interested in the move, but first wishes to meet with newly-hired Chelsea manager Roberto Di Matteo in order to discuss the prospect of regular playing time next season.
Talent is piling up on the wings at the Bridge, with Hazard, Marin and de Bruyne joining the likes of Daniel Sturridge, Florent Malouda and others seeking first-team action.
And that's without mentioning Brazilian winger Hulk, who looks close to sealing a move from Porto to the London club.
Considering that Newcastle bought Ben Arfa for £4.3 million in January 2011 after bringing him in on loan to start the season, they stand to make quite a significant profit from his potential sale.
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