Liverpool Transfers: Why Hatem Ben Arfa Is Not the Answer This Summer

Karl MatchettFeatured ColumnistMarch 12, 2013

NEWCASTLE UPON TYNE, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 22:  Newcastle player Hatem Ben Arfa in action  during the UEFA Europa League Group  match between Newcastle United FC and CS Maritimo at St James' Park on November 22, 2012 in Newcastle upon Tyne, England.  (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)
Stu Forster/Getty Images

Liverpool are already being linked with a whole host of players for the coming summer transfer window, and one of the latest names is Newcastle United attacker Hatem Ben Arfa.

The Magpies' attacking midfielder has impressed in spells this season, but only in spells, as form and fitness have disrupted his campaign as Newcastle battle away in the lower reaches of the Premier League.

Even so, media reports place him somewhere near the top of Brendan Rodgers' wish list for the months ahead (via Daily Mail), but the Reds would do better to look elsewhere.

Not that the Frenchman is not talented; he is an extremely able player who can win games in the drop of a hat when he is in full flight, and his ability to cut in off the right flank and shoot at goal with his rocket of a left foot is a huge asset.

But he does not offer enough consistency, and this summer, that's exactly what Liverpool need to find.

Quality players who perform on a regular basis. That, unfortunately, only partly describes Hatem Ben Arfa.

This season he has suffered with hamstring injuries, while he previously broke his leg shortly after joining Newcastle and has missed more than half of their league matches in total this term.

Allied to his generally slender frame, and not exactly being made of the never-give-up steel of Jamie Carragher or Luis Suarez, this all means that Ben Arfa is never going to be the type of player you can rely on for a long stretch of matches, and certainly not to be one of the main go-to men when the big games are coming up fast and regular.

It's not all negatives and downsides with Ben Arfa, of course. Far from it.

He is a talented dribbler, has real pace with the ball at his feet and can play both central or from the flanks. Technically sound, he would likely fit in well with a possession-based approach, though he retains an impetuous and individualistic streak which, though at odds with the general type of play, provides an interesting and necessary switch at times.

The problem there, of course, is that the Reds already have that to some extent with the likes of Daniel Sturridge, Luis Suarez and perhaps Philippe Coutinho. If the recently-arrived Brazilian continues as a regular on the left side, the Reds will need a different kind of player on the right.

Ben Arfa could, of course, provide that thrusting, rapid threat vertically, something which nobody else on the team gives just now unless Suarez embarks on a run from the centre—but you can never tell where he'll pop up anyway.

He can also be a rather impressive game-changer to call upon, an impact substitute if you will.

But are Liverpool likely to splash out £10 million, or £15 million, or exchange Andy Carroll, for a squad player?

Is Ben Arfa likely to become any more consistent if he is playing inconsistently, making sporadic appearances off the bench?

It is improbable.

Above all else, what Liverpool require is reliable quality. Form aside, Hatem Ben Arfa's fitness levels have to leave that reliability in question, for this summer at least. Balazs Dzsudzsak, Dries Mertens, Julian Draxler or Jeremy Menez would all seem to represent better bets in that regard.

But not Ben Arfa, until he proves he can be a far more reliable source of game-changing moments.

Then again, he would be coming into a Liverpool squad with a medical department at their disposal which has kept Steven Gerrard on the pitch for every Premier League minute this season and Daniel Agger available for all but one game which he missed through suspension.