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Is Ben Arfa set to leave Newcastle for Qatar?

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French reports have Hatem Ben Arfa joining Xavi at an unnamed Qatari club for an unnamed price. We're naturally skeptical.

Paul Thomas

A common transfer rumbling reared its head in between World Cup matches Sunday, as outlets took advantage of the lull to peddle their wares to fans starving for football news. Seriously, the best antidote for silly season is actual football, but that certain corners of the internet remain determined not to be deterred. The rumour du jour concerns Hatem Ben Arfa:

You probably don't need to speak French to get the gist of that tweet, but here's Google Translate, just in case:

Hatem Ben Arfa is set to sign in Qatar, as Xavi.

This particular morsel picked up steam when Lee Ryder picked it up and ran with it, immediately going to interview former Toon players about Ben Arfa's once bright shining star. Is this one worth considering seriously? beIN SPORTS seems a decent enough outlet, but a couple of things give me pause: (1) Ben Arfa AND Xavi? How very Anzhi Makhachkala or Shanghai Shenhua of this unnamed Qatari club, which leads me to (2) it's an unnamed club. These oil sheiks are apparently so shifty that we don't even know which teams they represent anymore.

But let's say it's happening. The involvement of Xavi would suggest that perhaps Newcastle aren't being fleeced, which would be a nice change of pace. The fact that HBA and Alan Pardew have never really seen eye to eye means that his potential departure might be a net positive, especially if the price is fair. (Here's where we insert usual disclaimer about whether or not the club actually reinvest.)

I remain disconcerted, however, with the way Pardew apparently remains committed to ridding his squad of its most creative player. Yes, there are deficiencies in Hatem's game, but he possesses rare potential to change a game around based on individual ability. I'll not rejoice if and when he does depart, except in the fact that the Fatem meme can now die a fiery death.