Hatem Ben Arfa
Ben Arfa has scored 18 goals at NiceGetty Images

Former Newcastle forward Ben Arfa is in "advanced talks" to move to Barcelona in the summer as a free-agent, according to L'Equipe. The French publication claims that the versatile forward travelled to the Catalonian city last week to meet with club officials and discuss the deal.

The 29-year-old midfielder was once considered one of the most-promising talents to emerge from the prolific French academy, being a crucial player in the youth national team that won the Under 17 World Cup in 2004 alongside the likes of Karim Benzema and Samir Nasri.

Ben Arfa continued that progress in Lyon and Marseille until earning a move to Newcastle in 2010, firstly on loan and then on permanent basis after an impressive start to life in the Premier League.

Yet, the versatile forward endured mixed fortunes during the following campaigns to the point of being banished to the club's reserve ranks by former boss Alan Pardew.

His loan spell at Hull City in the 2014-2015 was even worst and in January Steve Bruce sent him back to the Magpies, who also decided to terminate his contact.

His days as footballer appeared to be over but Ben Arfa instead returned to his homeland to play for Nice where he has managed to make a sensational turnaround, scoring in 35 appearances and even being recalled by the France national team earlier in November 2015.

Such a resurrection has also rekindled rumours about a summer move to a bigger club like Liverpool, Atletico Madrid or Paris Saint Germain – as he is out of contract and will be available for a free transfer.

Now L'Equipe claims that he could even move to Barcelona after the Frenchman met with the Catalan officials for talks last week.

Barcelona manager Luis Enrique is desperately looking to sign a versatile forward to serve as back-up for the "MNS" trio formed by Lionel Messi, Neymar and Luis Suarez.

The La Liga giants have been linked with a number of names, like Kevin Gameiro, Nolito and Ousmane Dembele, in recent months. Yet, L'equipe reports that Ben Arfa is the one chosen by Barcelona officials and that the negotiations to close the deal "are advanced".