- Premier League
'Overweight' Ben Arfa fights Newcastle fine
Hatem Ben Arfa is likely to be axed from Newcastle's pre-season tour to New Zealand amid reports he has been fined for putting on too much weight over the summer break.
Newcastle have refused to comment on the allegations, but France's Le Parisien reports that Ben Arfa is contesting a £1,580 fine from the club for returning to training 1.5kg over an acceptable weight limit.
The newspaper went on to report that Ben Arfa denied he was overweight, instead claiming the new bulk was due to extra muscle rather than excess fat.
Despite once describing Ben Arfa as a "match-winner" capable of taking on the world's best players, Newcastle manager Alan Pardew seems increasingly keen to get rid of the French winger.
Ben Arfa found himself frozen out of the first-team squad last season and the arrivals of Siem de Jong and Remy Cabella over the summer means competition for attacking roles in Newcastle's starting XI is likely to be high when the Premier League gets underway in August.
Ben Arfa has always maintained that he wishes to stay at Newcastle and is prepared to see out the final year on his contract before moving as a free agent next summer. Reports in France suggest Newcastle accepted an offer for Ben Arfa from a Ukrainian club this month, but the 27-year-old rejected the move.
Newcastle will take on Sydney FC in Dunedin next Tuesday before facing Wellington Phoenix at the Westpac Stadium the following Saturday. Their Premier League season kicks off at home against reigning champions Manchester City on August 17.