Ben Arfa Joins Marseille — Nasri to Arsenal Deal Almost Done?
Marseille president Pape Diouf announced today (via the club’s official website) that 21-year-old winger Hatem Ben Arfa is set to officially join from Lyon on Wednesday following the completion of a medical. Terms have not been announced but are thought to be in in the region of 15 to 20 million euros. Lyon also admit that a deal has been reached but Ben Arfa and Lyon still have to work out “details” according to a note on the French Football magazine’s website.
Ben Arfa, a French international, will sign a four-year deal, the Marseille website claimed, adding that the player will be officially unveiled on Thursday or Friday.
Ben Arfa is believed to be a replacement for fellow French forward Samir Nasri, who is expected to join Arsenal shortly, and is one of a number of young French talents who have emerged in Ligue 1 this year. Despite that standing, Ben Arfa admitted to being unsettled at the end of last season due to the lack of first-team football at Lyon.
Despite the fact Marseille and Lyon are rivals, Lyon president Jean-Michel Aulas revealed in May that he would prefer to see the talented youngster play for a Ligue 1 side and remain in France rather than let him move abroad. That revelation paved the way for negotiations between the two clubs to open and for a deal to be struck. Paris Saint-Germain were also thought to be interested in the winger but there is no word if they ever officially approached Lyon.
Lyon are undergoing significant changes this summer as new boss Claude Puel looks to put his own stamp on the team. Midfielder Kim Kallstrom has revealed he is interested in a move to Spain (rumoured to be Sevilla) but conceded that a deal will hinge on more than his wishes. Goalkeeper Gregory Coupet has already said that he has played his final game for the club and is reported to be on the brink of joining Atletico Madrid but has also been linked to AC Milan and Tottenham Hotspur.
As for Nasri, he has been the subject of rumours since last summer. Those rumours have only intensified this year with his inclusion in France’s Euro 2008 squad. A deal appeared imminient last week when Nasri’s own website claimed (albeit briefly) that he had signed a four-year contract with the Barclays Premier League club.
It is believed the midfielder – who can play down the centre or on the wing – is likely to cost Arsenal around 15 – 20 million Euros as well. Nasri would be Arsenal’s second major signing of the summer following the capture of promising Welsh teenager Aaron Ramsey. Ramsey was also courted by Manchester United but rejected their approach after being flown to Switzerland to meet Asene Wenger personally.
“I met with Arsene Wenger and he was a big factor in my decision to join Arsenal,” Ramsey said in a statement. “He talked to me for a long time about the club and the plans for the future, which really excites me.”
Ramsey was Cardiff City’s youngest ever player, debuting at 16 and this past season showed immense versatility in playing central midfield (his favoured role), on each flank, at full-back and also in a free role behind the striker. He is an an excellent all-round athlete who excelled at many sports, including rubgy, before concentrating on football. He should be a good fit in the Arsenal system.