As mesmerizing a dribbler as any in football and a scorer of great goals, the French maestro is the League’s premier talent, and he's aiming to bring CL football to Newcastle, force his way back into the France squad and win the Ballon d’Or.
Thanks to Newcastle fan @HassanMBD for the illustration. Follow him for more.
A star graduate of the renowned Clairefontaine Academy in France, Ben Arfa was the 2008 winner of the French Young Player of the Year award, following in the footsteps of such luminaries as Zinedine Zidane and Thierry Henry.
As well as 13 caps and two goals for his country, he has the trophy-winning experience and clout not to be laughed out of Toon when he suggests Newcastle can challenge for the title.
“Why not? Why can we not say we could be champions?" he told the Chronicle (h/t Daily Mail), "Maybe? Anything is possible.”
That is, if the side plays with confidence. Easier said than done, yet he should know—he won five Lique One titles in six years in France.
HBA's a man on a mission after a horror tackle by Nigel De Jong four games into his NUFC career in November 2010 left him with a double-leg fracture. It got worse, as an infection meant his career was almost ended.
As he told Canal Plus (h/t ESPN Soccernet), "It was a big infection which could have been very dangerous. I was told that I could have had my leg cut off if they didn't operate on me very quickly."
Eleven months of rehabilitation were followed by a battle to regain his form, yet he began to produce the goods again in 2011 and having finally regained full match fitness, he's started the 2012/13 season a man possessed.
Speaking to the Chronicle, manager Alan Pardew said: "Hatem is really on fire for us at the moment. He was the highlight of the game against Aston Villa. He's just a special talent, and he's been our best player."
With the ball at his feet, there’s no more exciting sight in the Premier League or world of football.
Pace, acceleration, penetration, every trick in the book and more he invented—Ben Arfa’s a scintillating presence on the pitch who makes a mockery of attempts to stop him. Best of all is that he’s a big-game player: The better the opposition, the more he produces, as a pen assist away at Manchester United and goal away to Arsenal last season and penalty won and converted against Spurs this season prove.
Comparisons to Lionel Messi are richly deserved, yet as all Newcastle fans know, "He's good, yet he's no Ben Arfa..."
At Euro 2012, France limped out the competition at the quarterfinal stage against all-conquering Spain as HBA sat on the bench. He was left out of Didier Deschamps’ latest France squad despite a goal-scoring, game-winning start against Spurs on the opening day of the EPL season and impressive away performance at Chelsea.
The right-foot, 20-yard rocket that bulged the Gallowgate End net in Game 3 versus Aston Villa was a timely reminder of why he should always be selected. Throughout his career, Ben Arfa has faced his critics and has always come out on top. Don't bet against him doing the same again.
Ben Arfa's not only a wonderful goalscorer, he is a scorer of wonderful goals. His 60-yard solo effort against Bolton Wanderers last season was comparable to Diego Maradona’s slalom run from his own half against England in the ’86 World Cup, one of the greatest ever.
And he drops the "Hatem Bomb"—as Newcastle fans have dubbed his unstoppable shots and runs—with alarming regularity, a primary reason for his 1:4 goal-per-game ratio for The Magpies. Expect him to feature heavily in any goal-of-the-season competition.
First and foremost, Hatem Ben Arfa is an entertainer, and there is no better stage for his prodigious talents than St James’ Park. He enjoys a mutual love affair with the 52,000 strong that comprise the Geordie faithful.
Following in the footsteps of Ginola, Robert and N’Zogbia in what is now a tradition of French wingers on Tyneside, he is writing his own legend game by game, goal by goal. And one suspects from the irresistible form he has started the season in that the best is yet to come. Don't stop believin'.