HATEM Ben Arfa insists he would have gone on strike for a year if Marseille had blocked his summer switch to Newcastle, and the French midfielder is hoping the recent controversy surrounding his transfer will make him a stronger character.

With a proposed loan deal for Robbie Keane having all but collapsed over the weekend, and with Newcastle having opted not to follow up an initial inquiry into Utrecht striker Ricky van Wolfswinkel, Ben Arfa is likely to be the final player to join Newcastle before the transfer window closes this afternoon.

The 23-year-old has signed a season-long loan from Marseille, which will automatically turn into a permanent switch next summer if he makes 25 senior appearances this season, but his transfer to Tyneside was far from straight-forward.

He made an unscheduled journey to the North-East before terms had been agreed between the two clubs, and threatened to go on strike had Marseille officials refused to let him leave the south of France, a pledge he insists he was ready to honour.

“I had no other choice,” said Ben Arfa, who met most of his new team-mates for the first time yesterday having been omitted from the France squad for this weekend’s opening round of Euro 2012 qualifiers.

“In my head, my time at Marseille was already over. I didn’t think I had done something stupid, people did not understand what I was going through.

“Much has been said about me, but I was serious. I would not have played for a year. It was a tough decision, but I would have spent a year without playing.

“I’m not a kid, I’m 23 years old and the decisions came from me and only me. I was not manipulated by anyone. It was very hard psychologically.

“I considered stopping playing football. It made me feel awful, but thankfully it has ended well. For 15 days, I did not know what was going to happen and there was a lot of stress. But the experience will make me stronger.”

Having trained with Marseille during pre-season, Ben Arfa should be available to make his Newcastle debut in the next home game against Blackpool on September 11.

Where he fits into Chris Hughton’s current five-man midfield remains to be seen, but having set his heart on a move to England at the start of the summer, he cannot wait to experience the passion and intensity of the Premier League.

“Newcastle was always my first choice and everything that has happened over the summer was because I wanted to come here so much,” he said. “I did not care about anything else. Newcastle have a history and a strong identity.

“There are so many positives about coming here.

There are a lot of good players and they try to get the ball down and play good football. I am pleased to be playing in one of the biggest leagues in Europe, which is lively and with some great teams.

“I have always noticed how much people like football here and you could see that at Wolverhampton at the weekend.

“In France, there is only one team with a great atmosphere and that is Marseille, but in England it’s every game. I’m starting from scratch in a different country. I have a new country to conquer and it’s a great challenge.”

Hughton will spend today monitoring Keane’s situation at Tottenham, but unless there are any dramatic changes, he will not be making a renewed attempt to sign the Republic of Ireland international.

Similarly, he will not be making further contact with Utrecht, who have demanded an £8m fee for the highlyrated van Wolfswinkel.

Meanwhile, Sol Campbell will make his first appearance in a Newcastle shirt this evening when the reserves take on Sunderland at the Stadium of Light.

Campbell is expected to be part of a strong second-string line-up that could also include Shola Ameobi, Peter Lovenkrands and Ryan Taylor.