ALAN Pardew says he has NO regrets about letting Hatem Ben Arfa leave Newcastle United.
Pardew controversially loaned Ben Arfa to Hull City on transfer deadline day – and the deal has no recall clause.
Summer signing Siem de Jong – who took Ben Arfa’s No10 jersey – suffered a serious thigh injury days within 48 hours of his departure.
But Pardew – who also loaned defender Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa to AS Roma – says he made the “tough” call to ship Ben Arfa out for the good of his win-less team, which takes on Southampton at the St Mary’s Stadium tomorrow.
The 53-year-old added that the squad Ben Arfa left behind had a “passion for the club, the shirt and for the fans”.
“It would have been an easy decision to keep him,” said an unrepentant Pardew, who froze Ben Arfa late last season after a couple of dressing-room confrontations.
“But you have to make tough decisions, and I made the decision because I think the players we have here have a love and a passion for the club, the shirt and for the fans.
“They want to win for them, and that’s very important in the modern game.
“Both the players released on the last day were not regulars for this team.”
Asked if Ben Arfa and Yanga-Mbiwa, also loaned for the entire season, had a “love and passion” for Newcastle, Pardew added: “I don’t know – I’m only talking about the players who are still here.
“I’ve never been openly critical of players who have been here in the past in any shape or form. That’s for other people to decide.
“But what I do know is that this group, and that’s all I’m talking about now, have a real love and passion for the club.”
Ben Arfa, previously lauded by Pardew for his talent, had been made to work with the club’s development squad after reporting back for pre-season training.
And his exclusion from the first-team squad – and subsequent departure – angered many supporters.
Asked if it was a risk to let Ben Arfa join Hull, Pardew said: “Not in my opinion.”
Ben Arfa won’t be eligible to play United next weekend when Steve Bruce’s Hull travel to St James’s Park.
Neither Ben Arfa nor Yanga-Mbiwa were replaced on deadline by United, who made nine summer signings.
Meanwhile, de Jong – who started against Crystal Palace late last month despite being short of fitness – is facing up to four months on the sidelines.
“The decision still hasn’t been made about whether he or not he has an operation,” said Pardew.
“But either way I would say it will be a minimum of three months.”