Marseille insists midfielder Ben Arfa will stay
MARSEILLE (Reuters) -- A tense standoff was developing between Olympique Marseille and their France midfielder Hatem Ben Arfa on Friday with the player saying he was desperate to leave the Ligue 1 champions while the club insisted he was staying.
Ben Arfa wants to move to Premier League side Newcastle United, telling Marseille officials on Thursday the decision had been made before leaving the club's training camp.
Chairman Jean-Claude Dassier made a brief statement, however, saying Ben Arfa was going nowhere.
"Hatem is part of our squad and it will stay that way," Dassier told reporters. "There is no serious offer from Newcastle. It's a crazy situation."
Coach Didier Deschamps, clearly irritated by the transfer situation with Senegal striker Mamadou Niang also demanding a move away from the club, declined to comment.
Marseille opened the defence of their title with a shock 2-1 defeat to newly promoted Caen last weekend and are chasing Sevilla's Brazil striker Luis Fabiano to bolster their attack.
Sevilla coach Antonio Alvarez suggested on Thursday a deal was close, saying he would not lose any sleep if Marseille's interest led to Luis Fabiano leaving Spain.