The club's official Twitter account confirmed the news:
The move doesn't come as a surprise. It was clear during the latter stages of the campaign that Ben Arfa and Newcastle manager Alan Pardew weren't on the same page. Once the season ended, the exit talk surrounding the French international heated up.
Talent has never been the concern for Ben Arfa during any of his three stops, the previous two coming with Marseille and Lyon of Ligue 1. He's always flashed the potential to become one of the most impactful wingers in Europe.
To what extent he applies himself is the biggest issue. There are times when he's unquestionably the best player on the pitch and other matches where he's barely noticeable. That lack of consistency is frustrating for any manager.
One of those times when his ability was on full display came against Stoke City around midseason, as illustrated by WhoScored.com:
He wasn't able to replicate that type of performance during the second half of the campaign. He finished the season with 27 Premier League appearances, 14 of which came as a substitute. He scored three goals and chipped in three assists.
As questions were raised about his future, he acknowledged that staying with Newcastle was his preference despite the differences with Pardew. The Hartlepool Mail passed along his comments about wanting to prove himself at St. James' Park:
If the manager says to me he doesn't believe in me for next season, I respect that, but I want to stay. But if the president (Mike Ashley) wants to sell me, I have to go.
I want to stay here even if the manager doesn’t believe in me, because I will show him I can play here.
Then reports surfaced as the club began preparations for the new season that Ben Arfa showed up overweight. Luke Edwards of The Telegraph reported allegations had emerged of a fine from the club for a lack of match fitness. It wasn't the first issue:
"Despite once describing him as his 'match-winner' and good enough to rival the world's best players, manager Alan Pardew had frozen Ben Arfa out of the first-team squad following a series of clashes last season."
Apparently his wish to stay wasn't enough to convince the club to give him another chance to prove himself next season. Ultimately, that may be a good thing for Ben Arfa.
The situation had clearly reached a point where Pardew felt more comfortable building his weekly squad without the inconsistent winger. Instead of staying in that endless cycle of changing roles, the Frenchman will get a fresh start.
Even at age 27, there's certainly some untapped potential in him. Whether he will ever reach it or remain somewhat of an ongoing quandary is a mystery.
The biggest key for Ben Arfa is using the transfer to change outside perception. He needs to showcase an outstanding work ethic from training session to training session and from match to match. If he does, the results will improve.
Should he make those positive steps in the right direction, the signing could turn out to be one of the biggest bargains of the summer.
Ben Arfa is a game-changing player when in top form. He just didn't play at that level enough to convince Newcastle to keep him.
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