French international Hatem Ben Arfa has endured a challenging and frustrating first season with Ligue 1 champions Paris Saint-Germain. The 28-year old arrived at PSG coming off a revitalising season with OGC Nice during the 2015-16 campaign, scoring 17 goals and providing six assists.
However, Ben Arfa’s 2016-17 season in the French capital has been far from thrilling. New manager Unai Emery has underutilised the winger thus far, as he’s started just two games in Ligue 1 this season.
With only one assist and little indication that his role within the squad will change soon, it is critical for Hatem Ben Arfa to find a new club during the January transfer window and keep his career on an upward trajectory.
Often derided by managers and the media as undisciplined and lacking the desire to be a footballing star, Ben Arfa has always displayed incredible quality and ability. His problems seem to be lessened when a club can properly harness Ben Arfa’s strengths and keep him motivated towards success on the pitch.
Ben Arfa was pegged for stardom as a teenager in Lyon’s academy and soon made an impact on the senior team. But after troubles with team-mates (including Karim Benzema), Ben Arfa was sold to Marseille in the summer of 2008.
Strong play and further interest from European clubs continued, eventually leading Ben Arfa to the English Premier League with Newcastle United. His play was spectacular at times, with his skills able to take control of a match. Injuries, however, caused significant issues for Ben Arfa during his time in the North East.
A bizarre and ultimately doomed loan spell to Hull City followed in 2014, seemingly marking the end of a promising career for Hatem Ben Arfa. The talented Frenchman impressed many last season, and most of them expected his run of good form to continue at Paris Saint-Germain.
We take a look at why Hatem Ben Arfa should look to leave PSG during the January transfer period.
Any great player requires consistent playing time, and Hatem Ben Arfa hasn’t been getting enough minutes on the pitch. When examining the player and manager involved, it is not difficult to see how this relationship was always set up to be a struggle.
Unai Emery is known for his preference towards hardworking players. Ben Arfa, with his lackadaisical approach to training, was never going to be one of Emery’s favourites.
PSG IDENTITY CRISIS
Paris Saint-Germain currently find themselves in a transitional period. The departures of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, David Luiz and a change in manager have left the club looking less dominant than they have in recent years.
Currently sitting third in the Ligue 1 table behind Nice and AS Monaco, PSG’s control over the French first division appears to be diminishing.
Hatem Ben Arfa, in many ways, has arrived in Paris at the wrong time. With aspirations of once again being part of the French national team, a change of scenery will be hugely beneficial.
A CLUB FOC– USED ON BEN ARFA’S ABILITIES
Hatem Ben Arfa’s skillset is one that fits into a team’s formation easily. At his best on the wing, his pace and skill on the ball can open up any defence. But when not properly used, he can have little or no effect on a squad’s style of play.
While Emery often deploys a 4-3-3 formation, the movement is centrally-focused and will call for Ben Arfa to occupy more of a midfield role. A club that will allow him to create space and move at goal will see the player continue to flourish.
Hatem Ben Arfa has seen ups and downs throughout his many years in European football. To keep his career on the rise and continue to evolve his game, a transfer away from Paris Saint-Germain in January is crucial.