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Will We Be Taking Our Hats Of To Hatem?

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Last season a transfer took place between Newcastle United and Olympique Marseille. It was for the services of a player called Hatem Ben Arfa, born with Tunisian descendants he was signed by Marseille in 1999 and selected to go to the famed Clairefontaine sports academy which has produced many of Frances greatest players over recent years including Nicloas Anelka, William Gallas, Thierry Henry and Louis Saha.

Making many appearances for Frances U16 through to the first team scoring plenty of goals along the way he became one of the most talked about and desired players in Europe, playing many roles as winger striker and support striker. Attracting attention from such clubs as Chelsea and Ajax among others Ben Arfa began to play on the left wing for Lyon and quickly became a fan favourite, scoring his first goal from the penalty spot against French club Lille.

Signing for Marseille in the summer of 2008 for €11 million euro’s, much was expected from him.

Although he was quite prolific for the French youth squads, Hatem never fully produced the goals many people and top scouts thought he would. By the time he had played nearly two hundred appearances in the French league he had only found the net twenty six times, although not that bad, well below what is talent had predicted.

Many top European teams started to cool their interest, mainly, Arsenal, Liverpool, Madrid and both Milan clubs. He was fined by Marseille

At the age of 23 he had only made a handful of international appearances scoring twice, one in a friendly of no importance against Norway.

It was Newcastle United who stepped in to give the diminutive attacker a chance agreeing a loan deal believed to be worth £2 million pounds before making it permanent six months later in January triggering a clause in the loan agreement and a further £5 million instalment.

Given the number 37 shirt by the Geordie club had began the season ‘on fire’, playing with flair and attitude that had once made top clubs sit up and take notice. He scored arguably one of the goals of the season taking the ball about 30/35 yards out before smashing it past a helpless goalkeeper.

Then sadly just as he was being talked about in the same breath as years before, a challenge by part time kung fu fighter Nigel De Jong (ask Xabi Alonso) ended his season breaking his tibia and fibula.

He tried to make it back before the end of the season but Newcastle manager Pardew did not want to sacrifice short term gain for long term pain. ‘I am going to protect him, I can’t just throw him in’.

Now is Hatem Ben Arfa a case of a late developer of his much envied talent? Can he start next season in the same way as last and perhaps win a place in the premier league best eleven for the season? Or whisper it quietly, possible premier league Player of the season?

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5 comments

  • John says:

    Ben Arfa’s a nice player, and will be good for Newcastle, but he’s hardly going to be World Player of the Year next season, so please don’t suggest he’s going to be the best player in the PL next season.

  • wayne says:

    to the above comment shut up!

  • danny says:

    he is a very good player but will the injury on his magical left leg be to bad and he never gets back to top level. i wish he does not just as a newcastle supporter but because i love flair players

  • Steve says:

    I am a Newcastle fan and have every faith in Ben Arfa’s ability if worse comes to worse and he loses some pace he still has the trickery to beat a man and has the passing ability to terrorise defences. Trust me watch this space.

  • tim says:

    What a good read! I am also a Newcastle fan and agree Ben Arfa is a good player. Bring on the new season and lets see what the future holds for the lad.

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