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A-League preview: Victory favourites

By ESPN Staff

Hughton plays down Ben Arfa talk

Newcastle manager Chris Hughton has insisted no direct contact had been made with Marseille regarding France winger Hatem Ben Arfa.

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Reports have suggested the newly-promoted club have targeted the former Lyon man to help boost their bid for survival but Hughton is adamant no deal is in place.

He told Sky Sports News: "There isn't anything. We are aware of the speculation and that he has been linked to us but he is very much a Marseille player. There hasn't been any direct contact."

Hughton is hoping to make inroads in the transfer market before the window closes at the end of the month though.

"We have said all along that we need to boost the squad but it is difficult," he said. "It's not only us that have found it difficult, it's finding the right players and the right values. We know how difficult this league will be and we need to be ready for it."

Hughton is pleased expectations at St James' Park have been tempered this summer following admissions from the board that little money will be made available following last season's promotion campaign.

He said: "There had to be some realism of where we are. We want to be a stable Premier League team and for that we have to work hard this year and allow this club to grow again.

"There are some wonderful signs here, we know what this club can be but we are a long way away from that at the moment."


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