The summer battlefield of transfer rumours, lies and misinformation was lit up earlier this week when Hatem Ben Arfa was interviewed by L’Equipe.
At first I hoped that what he had said had been lost in translation but our (seems like full-time at the minute!!) translator Pierre confirmed that what Hatem had said, was pretty much what all the media had picked up on.
Newcastle is a big club, even if there are bigger. I still have three years on my contract, but I know that time will pass quickly.
I’ve never felt as settled at a club as I do at Newcastle. I feel like I’m somebody important there, it’s a magnificent feeling. I haven’t forgotten the coach (Chris Hughton) made me sign, even though I was only on loan from Marseille and I was injured”.
The initial headline grabbing naturally all focussed on a very small part of a much longer interview which was almost exclusively about his career in France and all the problems he’d had, eventually leading of course to his recent rehabilitation and subsequent selection for the Euros.
He really is massive massive news in France, a bit like a current era French equivalent of Gazza, a player with supreme talent but also a lot of baggage which makes him perceived to be very hard to manage.
A large part of the interview was about his time at Marseille and Ben Arfa reflecting on his behaviour back then – such as;
“There were bad vibes around me [at Marseille]. I am much calmer now and I’ve addressed any problems I had myself, whereas before it was always the fault of others.
“I mostly felt a change in myself after I left Marseille. I began to realise I needed to grow up and I had been harming myself, rather than others”.
Everybody jumped on Ben Arfa talking about there been bigger clubs than Newcastle and the possibility of another club coming in for him.
What any player actually thinks, only he knows, but what you do want to hear is a simple ‘I love it at Newcastle, no interest in leaving blah blah blah’.
We’ve all read this so many times from players both at our club and every other one….only for them to then leave, that’s football, but at the time it is the only answer any player should give.
The problem in interviews is that players get sucked into a conversation and then a question is dropped in that will get the headlines, Ben Arfa fell for it.
It is interesting that after the initial surge of headlines that Ben Arfa’s quotes equalled him wanting to leave, various media are now using the quotes to say Ben Arfa will stay at Newcastle unless there is something out of this world comes along….which in reality you could say about any player.
I think part of our problem is that while we see the average footballer as not very bright, with foreign acquisitions I think there is a tendency to not see them quite the same, coming from different backgrounds and cultures we attach a mystic, exotic nature to them and part of that is not seeing them as generally the same as their English counterparts. Kids who have grew up only thinking of football and often from financially deprived backgrounds, where studying would have been at the end of any kind of list of priorities.
He will have hopefully learnt that careless talk can upset the status quo.
Like all footballers he is best when rather than talking a good game, he is concentrating on what he is good at – playing the sport he was born to excel at.
Many Newcastle fans want Ben Arfa to have a low profile in Poland/Ukraine this month, I’d prefer to see him ripping the heart out of the opposition because he is one of Newcastle United’s shiniest stars.
Plus if playing for Newcastle equals a return to being a leading light for France, well Hatem would be daft not to see the very clear connection.