Time elapsing on fan favourite’s Newcastle career as Inter lurk

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People far more enlightened and wise than this scribe have ventured that time can be a great healer, but for Newcastle fans the clock must be at a standstill as they struggle to overcome the loss of Yohan Cabaye this past January.

Now, things look like they’re going to get worse as another fan favourite, Hatem Ben Arfa, is ushered out of St James’ Park.

The Frenchman, signed from Marseille in 2010, has been an inconsistent frustration for Alan Pardew this season and has only managed to impress in fits long enough to earn starts in three consecutive games before adorning the bench again.

His latest omission came in the 4-0 drubbing by Tottenham, when he was introduced just after an hour only to show a lack of desire and work ethic that infuriated his manager.

Now rumours abound that Pardew has finally had enough and those whispers have travelled over to Italy, where Serie A giants Inter Milan have been put on red alert.

Moussa Sissoko and Yoan Gouffran have shown that ingenuity can be combined with defensive diligence while operating on the Newcastle wings, and as such have convinced Pardew that they are a better long-term option for his Magpies side.

That leaves Ben Arfa a choice between settling for an impact role off the bench or taking flight, with the latter the most likely.

Inter are thought to have made a tentative enquiry about the 26-year-old last month but, given Joe Kinnear’s struggles in replacing Cabaye, were naturally rebuffed.

That won’t be the case this time around as Pardew looks to remould a side whose current form of one win in the last six has seen them slip in the top-six betting to 150/1 longshots.

Until then don’t be surprised to see Ben Arfa’s mercurial talents limited to the closing stages of matches, with the home game against Aston Villa, which Newcastle are 21/20 to win, likely to continue all the time.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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Matt Wiggins

No idyllic sound comes close to leather on willow for Matt, whose previous experience includes stints with Spin Magazine and Surrey County Cricket Club. It's not just cricket that interests him though, with football, golf, tennis and any American sport not played on ice all high on his list of favourites.