IF you could bet your house on something in the last few years it was that Hatem Ben Arfa would not be returning to Lyon or Marseille because of the manner in which he left both clubs.
Yet there it was ... over the last 48 hours it has been claimed Ben Arfa could be returning to Lyon to help with the push for £15m-rated Alexandre Lacazette to head in the opposite direction. Surely not?
Now football is football, so anything can happen. Expect the unexpected is probably the best motto to remember in dealing in the world of football transfers – and that’s the case again.
Ben Arfa left Lyon after a serious bust-up, so it’s difficult to imagine they will want him back. But he did emerge from their academy and it could well be his decision to make. Lyon, by all accounts across the water, are interested.
Newcastle are perfectly entitled to have mentioned him in part-exchange negotiations in a bid to get Lacazette before the end of the transfer window this month. The chances of such a deal would have seemed fanciful, but maybe not as fanciful as you might think.
Transfer likelihood rating: 6/10
Then there is Sunderland, who have plenty of work to do on the recruitment front this month.
Despite the success of landing Jack Rodwell from Manchester City for £10m, Gustavo Poyet wants more – many more. Santiago Vergini will be next, but then who?
The talks will continue with Liverpool and Fabio Borini over a proposed £14m switch, but will Connor Wickham be still around if he does arrive?
Wickham has still not signed a new contract and, by all accounts, he could be asking for a pay hike after helping the Black Cats stay in the Premier League. If Sunderland don’t agree to the rise, then that could pave the way for West Ham, Leicester or Southampton to move in.
There is even talk of Newcastle. Now even if the Magpies are interested in signing Wickham then Sunderland will not be willing to let him move to St James’ Park to join Jack Colback. No chance.
Transfer likelihood rating: 3/10
Aitor Karanka is also very busy at the Riverside. The Spaniard wants more new faces in his squad before Saturday’s season opener against Birmingham City and Adam Clayton is the midfielder likely to arrive in a £1.5m deal.
The snag which Boro have hit is that the Terriers wanted Jacob Butterfield in return but he is not thought to have been too keen to head there. That led to Huddersfield signing Conor Coady from Liverpool yesterday, so that should help Middlesbrough.
Huddersfield are not happy with how news broke of the deal on Teesside, but after the delay Clayton should still arrive to play in the Middlesbrough midfield.
Transfer likelihood rating: 10/10
The right-back situation remains a concern too for Karanka and he has made progress on that front this week.
Hajduk Split’s Avdija Vrsajevic is on the horizon at this stage in a deal worth around 500,000 euros, which could rise to 1m, and Middlesbrough could well pull off a deal. There is also interest in Osasuna’s Damia Abella and a deal for him could also be on the horizon.
The chances of Vrsajevic, a Bosnian World Cup defender, joining, though, are reasonably strong.
Transfer likelihood rating: 8/10