Hatem Ben Arfa. What a season he has had with Nice in the French Ligue 1. After being released by Newcastle in January 2015, he signed with the French outfit. However, he wasn’t allowed to play for Nice because he had already been part of two teams namely Newcastle United and Hull City in the 2014-2015 season and Nice had to terminate his contract. They again signed him before the 2015-16 season and since then he has been having a magical season.
Ben Arfa is not new to English football. In the summer of 2010, Ben Arfa had signed for Newcastle United on a season-long deal. Towards the middle of the season, Newcastle announced a permanent 4 and a half years deal. Ben Arfa had a mixed time at Newcastle with most of his time spent on the sidelines due to injury. In the 2012-13 season, he made 19 appearances and scored 4 goals. He also created 25 chances and had a meagre shot accuracy of 39%. In the 2013-14 season, he made just 14 appearances and scored 1 goal. He created 19 chances and had a shot accuracy of 39%. Frustrated with his injuries and inconsistent form at times, Newcastle loaned him out in the 2014-2015 season to Hull City. He made just 8 appearances and had a very poor form. In December, he left England without informing the manager Steve Bruce and that marked the end of his Hull City career. Subsequently a month later, Newcastle had announced the termination of his contract.
After all the drama, he moved back to France and since signing on, he stated that even if Real Madrid had come looking for him, he would have still signed for Nice. And what a season he has had since then. He has made 31 appearances this season and has scored 17 goals. He has also registered 5 assists and created 29 chances. He has 881 passes with a passing accuracy of 80% and 61% of them were forward passes. He has also won 54% of his average duels. After such a fruitful season, reports have emerged that Chelsea are looking to pick up the midfielder for next season. So will he be a good signing for Chelsea? Can he be the player who will make them an EPL force next season?
I don’t think so he is the right man for Chelsea. The reason is very simple. He just couldn’t adjust to English football. Even though he showed glimpses of his talent towards the early part of his Newcastle career, he always found it difficult to adjust to the strong physical way of English football. His string of injuries in the EPL is a proof of that. This season in France, he has hardly suffered from any major injury. Plus he made it clear that he likes playing in France. Bring him back to the EPL and he will struggle again. He will join those league of footballers whose heart will be at one place and body will be at another. You cannot succeed with that in EPL. At France, he enjoys his football and you can clearly see that in his playing style. He plays more free football and looks fresh. He is 29 and if he is brought to the EPL now, it might take him quite some time to again adjust to English conditions.
Chelsea already have Willian whose playing style is exactly like that of Ben Arfa. Both of them are attacking midfielders who are equally impressive on the wings. Plus Chelsea have Hazard and Oscar whom they are backing to come back to form next season. All of these players are known to be attacking midfielders. At 29 years of age, he might struggle to break into the Chelsea first team. Plus Ben Arfa always had issues with fellow club players. He has a reputation for lacking discipline and has had bust-ups with own club players at Lyon, Marseille. He has bad issues with club managers at almost all the clubs he has played at. It doesn’t make any sense to sign a 29-year-old who has had a flop record in the EPL and has had disciplinary issues all throughout his career. Well, only time will tell if Conte and Chelsea will sign the Frenchman but if the past if facts are to be considered, Ben Arfa definitely doesn’t look like to be a good signing for Chelsea.