Departed Newcastle United winger Hatem Ben Arfa has explained why he decided to join Nice.
The 27-year-old had his contract with Premier League outfit terminated and moved to the French club on an 18-month deal.
“I was in contact with (former Lyon and current Nice teammate) Mathieu Bodmer, whom I know well, and as we were discussing things he asked whether a move to Nice might be something I would be interested in,” Ligue1.com quotes the 27-year-old as saying.
“I though about it, and I knew that Julien Fournier - with whom I had an excellent relationship at Marseille - is now Nice's general manager.
“Fournier called me, and we talked, and I realised he's someone I trust. As a person, I need to have the support of those around me and here at Nice, there are people who have faith in me and who don't judge me the way many people who have read about me in the press judge me.”
It seems that Ben Arfa is glad to have left Newcastle, where he spent four-and-half years without really making a massive impact.
Considered as tremendously talented and gifted, the France international did not have the discipline and work ethic, or at least he did not show it consistently enough in the Premier League.
But the former Marseille star is delighted to be back in his homeland. In fact, he claims that he would have rejected Real Madrid if they had come calling.
“I also spoke to the coach (Claude Puel), I liked his integrity and his approach to football and within 10 minutes, my choice was made,” ChronicleLive quotes him as saying. “Even if Real Madrid had called at that moment, my mind was made up!”
Perhaps it is best for all parties that Arfa has left Newcastle for Nice.