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Report: Barcelona close to signing Ligue 1 star Ben Arfa on free transfer

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Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

Barcelona could make a surprise signing to back up the 'MSN' trio.

According to reports in France and Spain, the Catalan giants have held several meetings with the agents of Nice striker Hatem Ben Arfa, and are very close to a deal that would have the Frenchman joining the Blaugrana on a free transfer. Ben Arfa's contract expires this summer and he didn't pursue an extension with his current team in hopes of finding a new home in a bigger club.

Ben Arfa is mostly known for a bad spell in the Premier League with Newcastle, but he revitalized his career when he joined Nice, and became one of the French league's best players. The 29-year-old has 17 goals in 32 appearances this season, and has incredible skills to go on with his scoring ability.

After such a good campaign in Ligue 1, he was linked with a move back to the Premier League, but Barça officials contacted the player's entourage and started negotiations. There are no talks between clubs since Ben Arfa is a free agent, meaning he only needs to agree with a salary offer and join immediately.

Ben Arfa's singing would be an opportune deal, something Barça sporting director Robert Fernández wouldn't pursue if there was a transfer fee involved, but he is happy to do it for free. If Ben Arfa is indeed signed, Barça's budget would be intact and the Blaugrana can go after expensive center-backs and full-backs knowing that their 'MSN' backup priority is already taken care of.

What do you think, Blaugranes? Happy with Ben Arfa's deal, if it happens?