Liverpool are preparing to sign Newcastle United midfielder Hatem Ben Arfa in the summer. The Mirror believes Reds boss Brendan Rodgers wants to offload England international Andy Carroll in and the Northern Irishman is likely to use the former Newcastle striker as bait to bring the Magpies star to Anfield.
It is believed talks have already begun over a prospective swap deal and the French international is viewed as an important part of Rodgers' summer plans. The 26-year-old has not been as impressive this season as he was last term, with injuries restricting his game time.
Ben Arfa has only 15 games for Alan Pardew, in all competitions, this season, with three goals and three assists; last season he had six goals and five assists from 30 games and was often the lynchpin of the Magpies' attacking moves. He was linked with a move to Arsenal at the start of the season
The Frenchman is presently recovering from a hamstring problem and has been ruled out for the rest of the season.
Carroll and Newcastle United
Meanwhile, Pardew remains keen on bringing Carroll back to St James' Park. The 24-year-old powerful centre-forward was in excellent form the Tyneside club between 2009 and 2011, scoring 28 goals and creating 11 others in 58 appearances in the Premier League and Championship.
However, he failed to replicate that form after his £35m move to Liverpool in January, 2011 and after being declared surplus to requirements at Anfield, joined West Ham United on loan. He struggled at Upton Park as well, earlier in the season, but four goals in his last six games suggest a turnaround in fortunes.
Hammers' boss Sam Allardyce has admitted he would like to sign the England man on a full transfer but will have to fight off the Magpies. The Reds are believed to have placed a £17m valuation on the player.
If a swap deal does materialise, it will likely benefit both clubs. Liverpool have made it abundantly clear Carroll does not fit their system and his £90,000 per week wages are a drain on their resources. In Ben Arfa, they will have an attacking midfielder who is quick, technically gifted and has an eye for goal - all attributes he shares with Uruguayan striker Luis Suarez and Brazilian midfielder Philippe Coutinho at Anfield.
Meanwhile, Pardew could certainly use a proven goal-scorer at St James' Park, and with the 2014 FIFA World Cup round the corner, Carroll will probably welcome the chance to return to familiar surroundings and re-establish himself as a viable striking option for England coach Roy Hodgson.