Hatem Ben Arfa is one of the more talented players on the Newcastle United roster, yet for the past few matches even with injuries abound, he hasn't been on the pitch as a starter and often not even on the bench as a substitute. Many were led to belief Ben Arfa was dealing with an injury and wasn't fit to play, but it seemed pretty obvious he had found himself in Alan Pardew's dog house in some way.
"I feel sad and frustrated, but not angry," Ben Arfa told Martin Hardy of The Independent. "I want to help my team and I can't. It hurts a lot. I want to take the ball and give the maximum for the team. When I see we are losing games 3-0 or 4-0, it is very hard for me and I'm on the bench. If I was involved on Saturday, I think I could make a difference. I would like to try."
Ben Arfa is one of the most talented players on the ever depleting Newcastle roster, but he's also one of the most frustrating. At times he can be brilliant on the pitch with his combination of speed, balance and creativity but he also lacks in sometimes the willfulness to track back on defense and can lose possession on some boneheaded attempts.
But to think Ben Arfa isn't even worthy of being a second half substitute to provide a spark, at the worst, is foolish. Is Dan Gosling really a better option to start a game than Hatem Ben Arfa?
"On the pitch I think I can offer my flair, my creativity offensively," Ben Arfa said in the exclusive. "I take initiative positively and I try every time to do something. I think I can give a lot for the club. I just want to play. I'm fit. I'm not injured. I'm ready to play."
There have been some rumors and reports that Ben Arfa is out at Newcastle next season and will be sold over the summer, but the French winger appears to want to stay. After all, it's a club he essentially forced his former club to sell him to on a permanent basis. It leads one to wonder if Pardew is sacked, as he should have been likely weeks ago, if that feeling changes with Ben Arfa.
"If the manager says to me he doesn't believe in me for next season, I still want to stay, I want to stay but if the president [owner Mike Ashley] wants to sell me, I have to go then," Ben Arfa said. "I want to stay here even if the manager doesn't believe in me, because I will show him I can play here."