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Ben Arfa eager for Toon chance

Winger relieved after snubbing European football for Magpies

By Ben Collins.   Last Updated: 03/09/10 4:26pm

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Ben Arfa: Insists he is fit

Ben Arfa: Insists he is fit

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Hatem Ben Arfa insists he is raring to go after sealing a season-long loan switch to Newcastle.

The French winger played in Marseille's opening game of the season on 7th August but then stopped training with the club to focus on making sure his temporary move went through.

The 23-year-old jumped the gun by flying to Tyneside early for talks and he was summoned back to Marseille, who tried to persuade him to stay at the Stade Velodrome.

Werder Bremen then expressed an interest, but Ben Arfa had already set his sights on Newcastle and decided to turn down UEFA Champions League football for the chance to play in front of the Toon Army.

"The time when I knew it was over at Marseille was after Newcastle became interested in me," he told The Chronicle.

"The reason I didn't go back to Marseille was because they said in the end they had accepted the offer by Newcastle, and all I wanted was to come here.

Let down

"What motivated me to take the actions I did at Marseille was because I felt let down by the club. Newcastle had made the effort to try to sign me and I wanted to come. I had to force the issue to make sure I could come here.

"I don't mind turning down the chance to play in the Champions League to play for Newcastle," he added.

"They may not be in Europe, but I want to play in this league and for this club. It's interesting for me to play abroad and in the Premier League."

Although Newcastle's main goal this season will be to ensure they maintain their top-flight status, Ben Arfa reckons he can challenge for more silverware with the Magpies.

After making his senior debut for Lyon as a 17-year-old in 2004, he has won five league titles, the French Cup and the Coupe de la Ligue while earning eight caps for France.

And he believes Newcastle can help him establish himself in a new-look France team having made a goal-scoring return in their friendly against Norway on 11th August.

Fantastic supporters

"It (Newcastle) was a choice I made because I feel it can enhance my career in the long-term," he said. "It has a big history and fantastic supporters. The history and how good the supporters are, is a very well-known fact in France.

"I hope that I can play many times for France in the future and being at Newcastle I can do that.

"I am excited by the prospect of running out in front of these fans," he added. "I want to give everything I can for them.

"I have a lot of confidence in the people I have seen on the training field so far. After seeing the skills of the players in the last week or so, I feel even more confident that the team can achieve success that I did before."

Ben Arfa's last game was that appearance against Norway but he played throughout Marseille's pre-season and has told manager Chris Hughton he is ready to feature against Blackpool a week on Saturday.

"I wasn't training with Marseille but I hired a personal fitness trainer to make sure I didn't fall behind. I worked really, really hard to keep a level of fitness up," he said.

"The coaches at Newcastle have all been impressed by my level of fitness and have had no questions about it."

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