Newcastle Have No Choice but to Sell Hatem Ben Arfa

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Newcastle Have No Choice but to Sell Hatem Ben Arfa
Scott Heavey/Getty Images

It seems strange when a side that struggled so badly for inspiration toward the end of last season would be so willing to part with one of their most creative talents so cheaply and easily.

But that is exactly the position that Newcastle currently find themselves in with Hatem Ben Arfa, who was, fairly recently, not far off being Alan Pardew’s prize asset.

The desperate fight of just a couple of seasons ago to get him fit enough to play regularly has been replaced with an equally impatient battle to get him out of the door of St James' Park fast as conceivably possible.

If and when Ben Arfa left, it was going to be to one of Europe’s big boys, as Newcastle fought tooth and nail to get the best possible value for him out of the deal.

But instead, as reported by Craig Hope of the Daily Mail, his star has now fallen to the point that he is being used as an attempted makeweight in a deal for Lyon’s Alexandre Lacazette.

So where did it all go wrong for him? And why are Newcastle trying so hard to get rid of a player who is more than capable of doing this?

Because any regular attendee at St James’ Park would tell you that that kind of skill and trickery was far from a one off.

Mark Runnacles/Getty Images
Ben Arfa bench-warming has become one of the regular sights of his Newcastle career

There is little doubt that he has the skill and talent to match almost any hero of Newcastle legends past, but temperament and attitude problems have played their part. In the modern game, you can not succeed on talent alone.

His occasional moments of brilliance are, unfortunately, too often offset by average displays and underwhelming levels of effort. 

If you are not pulling your weight on the pitch, then you're just not worth the trouble off it.

As was mentioned earlier, this is not exactly a Newcastle team who ended last season on a high. From January onward they tailed off badly, and when you're a creative talent who isn't playing even when the team isn't scoring, then there is clearly a problem.

There has been more recent talk of Ben Arfa's unprofessional attitude, particularly surrounding accusations of unacceptable weight gain over the summer.

All this from a player who said less than a year ago that he still dreams of winning the Ballon d'Or.

If it is all to be believed, then moving him on is the only realistic course of action. If Pardew thinks that the player is a lost cause then, regardless of his talent, he is no longer an asset but a burden and a drain.

Newcastle have been active during the summer. Midfielders Siem de Jong and Remy Cabella have been acquired from Ajax and Montpelier respectively, with forward Emmanuel Riviere coming in from Monaco. With a Lacazette deal in the works, there appears to be more activity to come.

Ben Arfa has proved himself to be a liability over the past year, and if more signings are on their way, then the fans will happily accept that moving him on is the right thing to do.

Good performances on the pitch have been too few and far between in recent times, and if Pardew feels that he can be adequately replaced, then the Frenchman’s time at Newcastle should be well and truly up.

But it doesn't stop it being a shame when a player with such ability never quite fills his potential. At his best, the real Ben Arfa is an incredible talent.

Unfortunately, though, it is highly unlikely that we'll ever see the real Ben Arfa in the Premier League again.

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