Liverpool are willing to send Andy Carroll back to Newcastle United in exchange for Hatem Ben Arfa.
The Reds paid a club record £35million to prise Carroll from the Tyneside club in January 2011, but he struggled to make an impact on Merseyside. After scoring just twice in the nine matches he played under Kenny Dalglish that season, more was expected from him the following campaign, but he could only manage nine goals in 47 appearances in all competitions.
When Brendan Rodgers was appointed as manager last summer, it became fairly obvious early on that the former Swansea City coach didn’t have plans for the 24-year-old. A return to St James Park was mooted, but in the end he instead joined Premier League new-boys West Ham United on loan, with the Londoners securing an option to make the deal permanent at the end of the season.
Carroll’s campaign has been interrupted by a string of injuries, which have restricted him to just 19 outings. It took him until November to register his first goal for the Hammers, in the 3-1 defeat to Tottenham Hotspur, and his brace in the 3-1 triumph over West Bromwich Albion last weekend means he has now scored a total of five goals for his temporary employers.
After the win against the Baggies, Allardyce revealed he would be interested in keeping the striker at Upton Park, as he looks to build a side fit for their 2016 move into the Olympic Stadium. He also admitted, though, that there are still a number of issues which would need to be ironed out to make the transfer possible, and he would review the situation at the end of the season.
However, according to The Mirror, the West Ham boss could yet miss out on the England international, who has nine caps for his country. David Maddock, the Merseyside football correspondent for the tabloid, claims Liverpool have been in touch with Newcastle about the possibility of a swap deal involving Carroll and Ben Arfa, their France international forward.
Alan Pardew has previously shown an interest in taking his former number nine back to the North East, but Liverpool refused to let him have him on loan in the summer just 18 months after they paid the Magpies such a handsome fee for his signature. Indeed, Rodgers even went as far to say that for him to sanction such a temporary move, he would have to be a ‘nutcase’.
Relations between the two managers have thawed since then, claim The Mirror, and this has allowed the Reds to suggest a swap deal involving Ben Arfa. The 26-year-old arrived at Newcastle from Marseille on an initial loan basis in 2010, and despite suffering a broken leg in October which ruled him out for the remainder of the season, the Magpies had no problem in making the transfer permanent for around £4million as he continued his rehabilitation.
He made 30 appearances following his return to full fitness in the 2011-12 season, and his performances won him a place in Les Bleus squad for Euro 2012. This term, though, his campaign has again been hampered by injury, and after a near-three month layoff with a hamstring injury, he returned to face Anzhi in the UEFA Europa League last month. However, he aggravated the problem during his comeback match, and is now expected to miss the rest of the season.
Pardew believes that on his day, Ben Arfa is as good a talent as there is in the Premier League. His goal against Bolton Wanderers last Easter, see below video, shows just how brilliant he can be. But his injury record is sure to be a concern for the Newcastle boss, who may well be tempted to take Liverpool up on their offer and welcome Carroll back to St James Park.
Away from football, the Frenchman has been fined £5,000 and banned from driving for 49 days after pleading guilty to speeding and driving without insurance. He was clocked at 110mph in his Mercedes last September, but he was at the time in possession of a green card which he thought meant he was insured, but the period of cover had lapsed.