Southampton to battle Leicester for Ben Arfa

Hatem Ben Arfa

Southampton have entered the race to sign Leicester City target Hatem Ben Arfa this summer.

Recent reports suggested Leicester City as favourites to land the 29-year-old French playmaker who is a free agent after his contract with French Ligue 1 club Nice expired earlier this month.

Nice president, Jean-Pierre Rivere, ruled out the option of extending the player’s stay at the club despite him being their best player last season, he revealed: “Hatem Ben Arfa will not be in Nice next season.”

In the past week, Leicester City emerged as a potential destination for the player, who scored 18 goals in Ligue 1 last season and was on France’s reserve list for Euro 2016.

Lyon were also interested in the playmaker and President Jean Michel Aulas believes Ben Arfa wants to join Lyon.

Speaking to Canal+, Aulas said: “Ben Arfa, it is a question of passion. He is close to our desire, our enthusiasm, to our fans. I think that he really wants to join Lyon.

“If he does not come, it will be for reasons that have nothing to do with passion. I believe that it is more Leicester City in terms of the direction he is heading.

That is what people have told me who spoke to him on the phone this afternoon.”

However, Southampton are now in a strong position to land him after signing Claude Puel who managed Ben Arfa at Nice last season.