It’s time to bury the hatchet with Hatem Ben Arfa.
It has been more than three years since the rambunctious Frenchman last donned the black and white of Newcastle United. He spent half a year on loan at Hull. He left Newcastle at the start of 2015. He latched on with Nice in Ligue 1 in July of that year. In the summer of 2016, Ben Arfa left on a free to join the French giants PSG.
Ben Arfa seemed to leave his past in England behind him. He made 32 appearances for PSG during the 2016-17 campaign, including 8 starts. Ben Arfa even got the chance to play in the Champions League.
Fast forward to this season and Ben Arfa finds himself on the outside looking in. He has yet to make an appearance in a competitive fixture in France and with rumors swirling about his exit, the former French international seems poised for a return to England.
And the Magpies would be smart to ensure that he ends up back in black and white if he does return to the Premier League.
If there is something Newcastle could use right now, it is a bit of flair and some offensive creativity. As of the time that I am writing this, the Toon have 10 goals in 9 games, which doesn’t exactly scream “winning formula” in the Premier League. Bringing in someone like Ben Arfa could take some pressure off the defense to constantly keep clean sheets in order to pick up points.
There are a lot of character concerns that come with picking up a player like Ben Arfa. It is no secret that he had some dust-ups with former managers and his personality sometimes lead to him putting himself before the team. However, I am confident that if there is anyone who can ground the French Messi, (yes I know no one calls him that, but tell me it doesn’t fit) it is Rafa Benitez.
When Ben Arfa left Newcastle back in the early days of 2015, the club was being managed by Steve McClaren and lacked much direction. With Benitez at the helm, this club finally has direction. Not to mention that it might soon have financial backing that we have never seen on Tyneside. Suddenly, Ben Arfa could be come a veteran presence for an otherwise young Newcastle attacking group.
The truth is Newcastle do not have anyone right now capable of doing what Ben Arfa can do. His close control and acceleration are rare traits that make him a dangerous footballer. He has the versatility to play on the wing or in the middle in attack, the latter being a place of need for the Magpies.
He might still come with an attitude, but that is something Benitez can handle. His value is unquestionable for a team sorely needing attacking options. If PSG are willing to part, and they seem like they will be, it would be wise for whoever owns Newcastle at that point to bring back Ben Arfa.