“When they shout Go! Go! Go! Take him on, take him…you can fly! You go and you try and its a pleasure to play in front of our supporters.”
Hatem Ben Arfa
French attacking dynamo magician Hatem Ben Arfa could be making a sensational return to Tyneside on loan after being made available on loan by Paris St. Germain & the Newcastle fans’ favourite would be welcomed back with open arms as Rafa Benitez aims to regain The Magpies’ position in the top tier of English football.
A disappointing 1-0 loss to Sheffield Wednesday in the absence of banned play-maker Jonjo Shelvey last night saw Newcastle relinquish top spot in The EFL Championship and leave the Spanish maestro manager with questions to answer about his side’s creativity and future pattern of play without his main England midfielder.
Without Shelvey’s vision and direction of play on the pitch, Newcastle were lacking inspiration and were not their usual class above The Championship rabble that has taken them to the top of the League and on a faultless nine-game winning run; instead they looked disjointed, ordinary and were hustled out of the game with the referee continuing the football authorities’ clear attempt to disrupt impending Geordie success.
Shelvey is only banned for four more matches yet Newcastle need an alternative to his superb long-rang passing, guile and creativity and now is the time to sign with the January transfer window open soon.
The answer could lie in the phenomenal football boots of Hatem Ben Arfa.
Now 29 year-old, Ben Arfa first arrived at Newcastle on a season long-loan in August 2010 to play under now Brighton manager Chris Hughton but after a magical debut and the winning goal at Goodison Park versus Everton, he was targeted by Man City’s hatchet man in the very next game, had his leg cruelly broken and would miss the majority of the next year on the long road to rehabilitation.
Recently sacked Crystal Palace manager Alan Pardew was Newcastle’s boss by the time he returned to full fitness and despite Pardew being much-maligned by Newcastle fans, he played him on both wings and through the middle in Ben Arfa’s most successful period in top level football with 12 goals in 72 games including some absolute gems against Blackburn and Bolton as well as at The Emirates and winning a point-saving penalty at Old Trafford.
A wizard of the dribble who loves to take players on and a scorer of great goals, Ben Arfa provides that spark of inspiration and excitement every time he touched the ball at St. James’ Park and lit up games single-handedly with assists & goals while stats-wise, his dribbling even surpassed that of Lionel Messi.
Last night’s tight affair with Sheffield Wednesday was a replica of many Premier League games Newcastle have played in recent seasons decided by either a set-piece like Wednesday scored last night or a moment of magic the kind Ben Arfa is renowned for in the Newcastle goals for column like this FA Cup worldie:
Rafa Benitez prizes team-work more than individual brilliance yet HBA would give the black and whites an extra dimension in the final third & urgently-needed attacking threat with Shelvey banned and he is more mature and a better team player since a 17 goals in 34 games season at Nice in his homeland, France. His affection for Newcastle remains undimmed and, indeed, he told Mo Diame – who leaves for Africa Nations Cup duty soon increasing the need for fresh attacking impetus – to sign for The Magpies:
“It’s true, Hatem told me to sign for Newcastle when I asked. He told me what a massive club Newcastle is. He was very happy here. He told me he had a good relationship with the fans – he loved it, he told me straight away to come to Newcastle.
“It would be nice for him to come back! He’s a player who could help the team and imagine him coming back and having happy fans who are behind him again. I think it would be good for him and I know he still loves the club.”
Despite scoring with his very first shot at PSG, he has become frozen out of the starting XI at the Parc de Princes although impressing in cameos like the one English fans would have seen against Arsenal recently in The Champions League at The Emirates when he turned the game on its head and set up the equalizer from a corner, another key skill that Newcastle will lack without Shelvey. And imagine the pair in the same team next season…
What would Newcastle fans and Benitez have given for a virtuoso no. 10 performance like this one at St. James’ Park on Boxing Day, 2013? A dream reunion with Hatem Ben Arfa pipping Liverpool and Fenerbahce to his signature and The Magpies will find out.