Nice star Hatem Ben Arfa has refused to hide his admiration for Barcelona's style amid recurrent reports linking him with a free summer move to the Nou Camp. The former Newcastle and Hull City forward, nevertheless, said he will not make a final decision until after the last game of the season against Guingamp on 14 May.
L'Equipe broke the news that the 29-year-old forward was in "advanced talks" to move to the La Liga giants to serve as back-up for the 'MNS' trio of Lionel Messi, Neymar and Luis Suarez. Being out of contract at the end of the season, the versatile forward has attracted the attention of a number of big European clubs after having rediscovered his best form at Nice with 17 goals. To cap a magnificent season he has also been included in the Ligue 1 Team of the Year alongside the likes of Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Angel Di Maria.
Nice president Jean-Pierre Rivere has confirmed negotiations between the player and Barcelona while encouraging his star to take the step to joining the Spanish giants.
Rivere told France 3: "Barcelona are indeed one of the numerous clubs who have asked for Hatem. Frankly, if it could happen I would be very, very happy for Hatem, who deserves to go to a club like Barcelona.
"You don't refuse a club like Barcelona, in my opinion, but it is his decision. If I was a player, I wouldn't ask any questions. I would go to Barcelona. I would be very happy if it happens and we are very happy for the club as well because it shows that at Nice we are capable of sometimes having exceptional players. But it's not yet done, according to what Hatem has told me. They are still in discussions."
Ben Arfa himself has refused to confirm his decision but suggested he would be open to move to a "very very good" club like Barcelona.
"When you like football, when you like playing, when you like good technique, Barcelona is Barcelona. It is a very very good club," Ben Arfa admitted to Telefoot although claiming he will "not make a decision" on his future until after the last game of the season against Guingamp.
L'Equipe, meanwhile, has reported that the player made the trip from Paris to Barcelona to visit the club's training ground on Monday (9 May), having already been in the Spanish town earlier to discuss his potential contract.
Lyon president Jean-Michel Aulas has however warned Barcelona that Ben Arfa was yet to make a decision and could eventually return to Lyon where his career kicked off.
"This is a scoop - I had an exchange with Hatem Ben Arfa," Aulas told RTL. "He has not yet made his decision. If he returns to OL, it will end what we began when his career started here. It is credible."