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Things Could Get ‘Messi’ At Newcastle United

10 years ago

Hatem Ben Arfa is the type of player who can either make or  break a team outside the moneyed elite. Clubs like Manchester City, Chelsea and others can afford to have a player of Ben Arfa’s ability on their books and use him sparingly, whereas Newcastle United’s small squad clearly cannot accommodate high earning players of ability who are on the bench more than the pitch.

Alan Pardew’s gamble of slowly bringing Hatem back into the team now looks to be likely to pay major long-term dividends. I think if Ben Arfa had continued to not produce, either on the pitch or because he was still on the bench, then I’ve no doubt this summer there would be pressure from above for Pardew to trade him in for a more productive player.

From his very first start as a Newcastle player we have glimpsed what Ben Arfa is capable of, picking the ball up 25 yards out at Goodison Park, he jinked to his left before putting a screamer away that any player would be proud of.

A lot of water has passed under the bridge since then and we are now at a point where following Hatem’s man of the match performance at The Hawthorns, Papiss Cissé had this to say about his team mate;

“Sometimes, with the ball at his feet, he’s like Lionel Messi. The ball sticks to his feet. I like that kind of player. Ben Arfa played his A-game (at West Brom). That’s why we took three points.

I am certain Hatem is capable of going to the Euros because he is really talented. He’s showing it every weekend. He did it at Arsenal and again against West Brom.

He has a great range of skills. He is the kind of player who can make the difference”.

Two things are certain for me; firstly that of course Messi is without equal in the world today and perhaps ever, secondly though my own eyes tell me that in terms of skill, Hatem Ben Arfa can produce moments of the same level as Lionel Messi.

What the difference is of course, is that Messi has so much more to his game, his workrate is excellent, involved constantly in the games and of course he produces his moments of magic on a very regular basis. It does help of course that he plays for arguably the best team in the world!

Hatem Ben Arfa will never be on the same level as Messi but what he can be is Newcastle United’s Messi, recent matches have seen him more involved and upping his workrate, alongside his obvious skills.

He has now earned a regular start for Newcastle United and his relaxed body language in the post-match interview was a joy to see, obvious to anybody that he is happy in himself after a very difficult recovery from a horrendous injury.

Now he has the platform it is really up to the player. Can he lead the charge for Newcastle United in this final run-in and snatch a place in the French squad for the Euros?

One thing I do know is I wish England had a player like him.



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