LIVERPOOL FC are keeping tabs on Newcastle United midfielder Hatem Ben Arfa as Brendan Rodgers plots his long-term vision for the club.
Anfield manager Rodgers has made no secret of the need to further bolster the squad over the next few transfer windows to ensure his side can genuinely compete with the Premier League’s elite.
The Northern Irishman splashed out more than £20million to sign Chelsea striker Daniel Sturridge and Inter Milan midfielder Philippe Coutinho last month.
And France international Ben Arfa is one of several players on Rodgers’ radar with thoughts already turning to the summer transfer window.
Newcastle fear the 25-year-old, who is currently sidelined having suffered a torn hamstring in December, will become the latest player to leave St James’ Park in the summer.
The Magpies have already seen Chelsea swoop for Demba Ba while captain Fabricio Coloccini has declared his intention to go back home to Argentina.
Liverpool could use Newcastle’s desire to take Andy Carroll, who is on a season-long loan at West Ham United, back to the North East as a possible bargaining tool for any move for Ben Arfa, valued at £20m by the Magpies.
While the Anfield outfit have an agreement with West Ham to sign Carroll for £17m in the summer, that the Hammers have yet to agree personal terms with the player opens the way for a possible return to Newcastle.
Liverpool, though, are aware Ben Arfa last month admitted he would find it hard to resist a move back to France and his boyhood club Paris Saint-Germain, who are reportedly tracking the former Lyon and Marseille man.
Rodgers has spent more than £50m since taking over at Anfield last May with Fenway Sports Group poised to bankroll further squad strengthening.
Meanwhile, Joe Allen returns to his roots this evening vowing to regain the form that made him an instant hit following his £15m summer move from Swansea City.
Allen will line up for Wales in their friendly against Austria at the Liberty Stadium having lost his place in the starting line-up for Liverpool.
And he admitted: “Look, everyone knows my form hasn’t been great. It’s been disappointing not to have been involved in every game.
“But it’s up to me to work hard and get myself back in the team and improve my level of performance. I’m looking forward to turning that around at some stage in the near future.
“I started well for me at Liverpool. In terms of settling in, that hasn’t been a problem. The club is fantastic from that point of view.
“I try not to focus on the price tag. That is something which will always be talked about. I knew that when I was joining.
“There’s no magic formula or reason why I haven’t been playing well. It’s just happened and I’m sure that will change.”
The man dubbed the ‘Welsh Xavi’ by Rodgers has received criticism from a number of television personalities, most notably Match of the Day’s Alan Shearer.
But Allen added: “Alan Shearer’s career and Premier League experience was incredible. When he speaks, people listen, for sure.
“I think you can use it as a springboard to help improve your game. It’s always interesting to see what those players have to say.
“I want to improve aspects of my game. I’m a perfectionist and maybe that’s part of my problem.
“Sometimes I get frustrated and disappointed when things aren’t perfect. In terms of what Alan said, I can try and learn from it.”