Date: 25th March 2020 at 5:00pm
Written by: Tony O'Connell

Newcastle United fan favourite Hatem Ben Arfa has become one of the latest sporting figures to be affected by the worldwide coronavirus pandemic.

Reports in Spain by AS Diario claim Ben Arfa’s current side Real Valladolid have been forced to move the Frenchman to its Youth Players Residence after the central government mandated that all hotels must be closed as part of a lockdown in the country.

Ben Arfa is currently living in a downtown hotel having decided against renting an apartment in the Valladolid capital following his January arrival at the La Liga outfit, whom he has so far only been able to play a total of 24 minutes for.

The former Toon midfielder signed with the Estadio Jose Zorilla natives during the winter market having been a free agent since the summer, when the 33-year-old was released by Ligue 1 side Stade Rennais after a year.

Ben Arfa is not believed to have contracted coronavirus, and will now live with two of Valladolid’s youth players in a 2,700 square metre complex, divided over four floors, 23 rooms, a library, pool, conference room and large terraces.

The player’s residence holds special importance to Pucela, as it homes many of the trophies the Spanish side have claimed over the years, as well as the shirts of all the players who have gone on to make their debuts in the first division after developing in their academy.

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Spain currently has the world’s second-highest tally of deaths related to coronavirus after 738 more cases were confirmed on Wednesday, taking the total now up to 3,434 – surpassing China’s toll of 3,285 and only trailing Italy’s 6,820.

Infections in Spain also rose 20% from a day earlier to stand at 47,610 confirmed cases, while the United Kingdom currently has 8,077 cases although the true figure is expected to be much larger due to the number of people untested.

Some of those affected include Prince Charles, who was confirmed as displaying mild symptoms on Wednesday, plus Greta Thunberg, celebrities Tom Hanks, Idris Elba, Fiona Phillips and athletes Chelsea winger Callum Hudson-Odoi, Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta and Utah Jazz basketballers Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell.

League One side Portsmouth have also confirmed that they have had a fifth player test positive, with all five self-isolating after showing mild or no symptoms of coronavirus.

In other Newcastle United news, a 28-cap international is open-minded to his future at St. James’ Park.

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