The best of Hatem Ben Arfa (video)

Hatem Ben Arfa is one of many Newcastle United players who endured a season wrecked by issues with fitness and form. The mercurial Frenchman wowed Toon fans after an injury-affected start, but was unable to keep his momentum going into the 2012/13 season. As Newcastle try to redeem themselves from a shocker of a season, they will look to Ben Arfa for much of their creative spark – assuming of course they can hold on to him. Let’s have a look at why he is held in such high regard.

This wonder goal in the FA Cup in the 2011/12 season was one to savour for those in the Gallowgate End. Picking up the ball just beyond the centre circle, Ben Arfa twisted and turned round nearly half the Blackburn team, hauling his side back level, before Jonas Gutierrez snatched it right at the death. Unfortunately, the Frenchman’s stellar efforts were to go to waste, as the Seagulls of Brighton conquered the Magpies in the next round.

Again at the Gallowgate End, this time against Bolton, Ben Arfa this time picked the ball up in his own half, again jinking past opposition players as if they weren’t there. In many ways this was a better and more important goal, as it kept the dream of European qualification alive, which was of course realised. Runs like this brought comparisons with Barcelona’s Lionel Messi, and while Ben Arfa is yet to show such consistency, he undoubtedly has the ability to reach the same heights on occasion.

This goal against Everton marked the Marseille import’s first Premier League start, and was the ideal introduction for such a mercurial talent. The goal sealed a 1-0 win for his new side. Unfortunately, Ben Arfa was about to be sidelined for 11 months after a bad tackle by Man City‘s Nigel De Jong.

In reference to the aforementioned Messi, here is what could best be described as a skill-off between the two players. Let’s hope Alan Pardew can bring out his inner Messi next season as Newcastle attempt to get back to the European places.