I’m sure we’ve all seen endless articles suggesting a return for either Hatem Ben Arfa or Andros Townsend, or both.

However, would you really want either of them back?

I for one would’t want to see either player back at St James Park.

I understand that they are both exciting flair players that would definitely add spice to our game, but I just don’t see them having the same pedigree character-wise, or the same team-working ethic our current lot have.

With Hatem Ben Arfa, he will be remembered for his dazzling dribbling, fans being off our seats as soon as he got the ball.

I always felt though that there were small changes he could have made to improve himself massively, which would have meant a much larger contribution to the team.

I appreciate there were many times he would run past a defender and not be afraid to take a shot, or he could excite us by taking it past a man or two.

However, there were countless times that positive looking counter attacks were either cut out, slowed down, or prevented by the man himself – Ben Arfa.

He has good football intelligence, he can take himself into good positions to receive the ball in space and turn away with it. But for the life of him he can’t spot a pass.

As a result there would be times he would pick up the ball on or around the halfway line, with players out wide/forward attacking the spaces. He’d take a touch, another, another – then with football standards so high in this country it can just take a second too long to hold the ball and the whole chance has gone.,

There were also more obvious chances wasted, as he would continuously rather shoot from 30 yards than slide a smooth ball through to the man up top, which should have been his main role.

It is rightly so that creative players are remembered for their quality moments, but I struggle to justify having a player that would let so many opportunities slip for the one in ten, or twenty, to hit the net.

As a team we simply can’t afford to have individuals performing for themselves, instead of playing to do what’s best for the team every second of the 90 minutes.

Quite possibly Rafa Benitez could change that in his game – but with his ego it is too much of a risk?

Then added to that, with his age (turns 31 in March) how would his speed/stamina be, or how would paying the wages he would demand affect others in the squad?

As for Andros Townsend…

A little similar to Ben Arfa at times but gifted with unbelievable pace and would deliver the occasional pass.

We replaced his pace with Atsu, a player bringing a lot of similar things to a game as Townsend would.

Townsend brings a lot to a game, I won’t deny that, but he is a prime example of how a modern day ego can affect how good a player can be.

There’s so many times in a game where he will try things outside of his skill set, as opposed to an easier alternative to give a teammate a much better chance of scoring.

I totally understand the need for players to express themselves, try new things when it feels right, acting on instinct, but we aren’t always going to cut teams apart creating chance after chance, so every chance is important.

In our situation we need a team full of players that will always act in the best interest of the team scoring, not themselves.

We’re assembling what looks to be a good footballing side, with players that can play in tight areas in the middle of the park, yet get it into space when needed.

I personally think Ayoze Perez doesn’t get half as much credit as he deserves, as he adds something totally different to our game, and I think he’s such a talented player with the ball at his feet.

Ayoze Perez is the type of player that thrives playing alongside technically gifted players, players capable of quick one-two’s or tiki-taka football.

Granted, there are areas of his game he could improve on, as I’m sure Rafa and the team will be working on, he still though brings a lot to the team.

He is selfless in possession and when we’re a goal up in a tight game, you can guarantee he can receive the ball out wide, draw the defender in, and get a foul.

Although this isn’t achieving much (taking on one player and going down), it gives the opportunity for the team to get up the pitch, re-group, have a breather.

His ability to make off the ball runs to take others out the game is also something that can’t overlook.

Anyway, with Murphy and Aarons waiting in the wings getting prepared for their next opportunity at Newcastle, I’ll end by saying I’d much rather see one of them getting a stretch in the side over a return for any of our former employees.

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  • Paul Patterson

    I still think based on the current set up, Shelvey should be the No10 with Merino and Hayden behind him.

    • Kaz

      I definitely think the prospect of that would be exciting. Just a learning curve for both Merino & Shelvey to interchange between one another to make sure we’re not left too open, as they both like to go forward.

      Plus Shelvey will be wanting to make the deeper role his own, as he has no chance of taking Alli’s place for the WC.

    • Paul Smith

      And then we’d lose much of the impact of his longer range / cross field passes which are perhaps his best attribute. He’d also be playing with his back to goal more which would reduce his chance of being able to pick his head up to play his passes.

    • Toonrobbybobson

      No chance Shelvey doesnt have the legs for that position and his strength is his passing. I thought it might have worked before season but I think about it the more stupid I was being.

  • Dillon Tovak

    There is just no point denying reality, Townsend put a shift in for the team, did all his duties and is gifted technically. Why pretend we wouldn’t benefit from him these days.

    • Toonrobbybobson

      Disagree. It was a purple patch and he was a rat jumping ship. Hes pulled up no trees at Palace and playing same level he was at Spurs.

  • Keeganontherebound

    Perez has had plenty of chances to prove himself. He would be OK as a squad player but we need someone better to be a first-choice number 10. No reason why we should have to choose between him and Ben Arfa. We just need a better player in that position – it’s nothing personal. Same with Joselu- he’s OK as backup but we desperately need a better first-choice striker if Rafa isn’t prepared to give Mitro a go.

    • Kaz

      Don’t be fooled by the headline, as the article wasn’t intended to compare to Perez & Ben Arfa.

      They play in different positions, and thus would be ridiculous to say one over another.

      But based on attitude and team contribution, if Ben Arfa had more of Perez’s character then he’d be a better player for it.

      And with regards to either returning, I’d much rather see either Aarons or Murphy given the nod.

      I agree Perez has had opportunity, and at times faltered for seemingly lack of quality.

      But put him with better footballers and he’ll prosper.

      • Keeganontherebound

        Fair enough and yes, if Ben Arfa had Perez’s attitude he would be starting games for PSG. I’m not sure Perez is ever going to get any better though but as I said don’t see any issues with having him in the squad. I would also rather look to the future with Aarons or Murphy rather than bring back former players – one who flattered to deceive, the other who cleared off after relegation and would no doubt cost a fortune to bring back.

        • Toonrobbybobson

          Perez I believe was a late starter and when he came worked on natural instinct and scored some really good goals at Prem level. Whats changed is they are coaching him and altering his game which takes time. Eventually it will become second nature and his natural instincts come back as he thinks less about the other side hes been taught.

          • Keeganontherebound

            I would love to see him come good but the reality is that he is a 24 year old forward with a record of around 1 goal every six games. That’s just not good enough to start in the premiership and most players who are going to be top class have made it by their mid-twenties.

  • Soldier

    Perez i`m afraid just isn`t up to the job, there doesn`t need to be a debate on the subject.

  • RAFmag

    For me (and a lot of others) he is just so infuriatingly inconsistent. A decent game against Southampton and a goal, followed by an anonymous game against Palace. I don’t have a problem with him being picked, but would like to see him and Atsu rotated more to involve Aarons and Murphy more. Think we are too predictable going forward.

    • Toonrobbybobson

      Have to say quite a few didnt turn up against Palace. Cannot put that down to Perez. Its easier making an impact in a team when everyone is on song.

      • RAFmag

        Agreed, Not solely down to Perez. Do you think think rotation is needed to freshen things up? Atsu, Perez, Ritchie and Joselu have played a lot of minutes recently.

        • Toonrobbybobson

          Think it showed in the Palace game. Ritchie probably needs a breather but its difficult to do it. Atsu might get taken out for Murphy like at Swansea.

  • Wor Monga

    Ben Arfa…haha he was an out an out individualist and Rafa wouldn’t entertain that in his team structure…I can’t see that ‘escape artist’ Townsend who’s value seems to be quoted in the £30m bracket now after achieving nothing at Palace coming back here at that inflated price, somehow…

    Perez is a work in progress at the moment…there’s no doubt he’s a quality player, but lightweight, and certainly not the finished article with time on his side, and if he wasn’t worth it then Rafa wouldn’t be taking the trouble…

    …All those who are saying he’s not good enough are probably getting their info from TV highlights…Rafa get’s his from day to day training sessions, and many years of working with players!!!

    • Gallowgate Dave

      Amongst many other reasons I can’t see the return of Ben Arfa, chief would be the fact that Rafa is such an instructional manager I think Ben Arfa would drive him up the wall. The only reason Townsend’s value has increased is because the TV money has increased, it’s nowt he’s achieved since leaving. He was a risk when we bought him but worth the punt and it (almost) worked out, I do think he has potential but £30 million shouldn’t be a risky potential type purchase and I fear we’ll still be talking about Townsend’s “potential” when he’s nearing 30, bit like how we held up hope of Shola’s “potential” until we finally realised he was actually an ageing pro destined never to fulfil his early promise.

      I have to disagree with you on Perez. I have Sky, BT and a season ticket so I watch a lot of him and he’s not good enough. Rafa plays him because he has no real choice without placing square pegs in round holes.

  • steve pearce

    Ben Arfa would be too busy getting his back door bust in down the pink triangle and would eat the ground empty of all food between the tunnel and the pitch. Townsend on the other hand is the real deal and I’d sooner have him in Perez’s position as he would give us strength and consistency and would not get muscled of the ball so much,

  • Toonrobbybobson

    Townsend is rubbish. Im sick of hearing about him. He doesnt have anywhere near the skill of Ben Arfa however he has serious mental problems that abteam cannot carry as one bad apple could wreck everything.

    Townsend fled a sinking ship as fast as he could be hes good at politics with a huge opinion of himself. If he was so good he’d be doing better at Palace. Alas his form for us was not his norm.

    Perez does a lot of selfless work off the ball but he is frustrating at times. However he is the type of talent it could just click. Weve done the hardwork with him and Rafa isintroducing new sides to his game. Once he gets used to that the other natural stuff will get better. Hes still a young lad who has experienced alot of bad times at this club.


    Apart from a few games Ben Arfa was a lazy Shyte Frog who had no bottle.
    Perez needs to be rested, I would not give up on him yet but we looked a lot better when Slo Mo replaced him agInst Palace. I am no great fan of Slo Mo but he is the best of a bad bunch in that position at the moment

    • Toonrobbybobson

      He might come in against Burnley. Its the type of game he did well in Championship with. Going to be a tough match Monday night.

  • Hughie

    Perez is the major weak link. Townsend is a far better player as shown last weekend and many times in a black and white shirt. Ben Arfa –totally unreliable.Perez chases down defenders well, his main role it seems and has a good engine, but that is negated by his constant loss of possession, rareness of assists, poor positional sense in the box, non existent aerial ability, and weakness in the tackle. Amazed he is still being picked. He has not improved since we bought him. Diame made an immediate difference when he came on against Palace, although I doubt his stamina for 90 minutes. Play Merino in the hole and persist with Hayden/ Diame and Shelvey in MF. Need a CF, No 10 and left winger in January.