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Barcelona Are About To Sign Europe's Most Talented Problem Child

Outside of Leicester City, one of the most improbable feel good stories of the year is the rejuvenation of French winger Hatem Ben Arfa's career. On January 4, 2015, Ben Arfa was released from his contract with Newcastle United, making him a free agent. Now, a little over a year later, he’s on the verge of signing for Barcelona as a vital back-up for their heralded front three of Lionel Messi, Neymar and Luis Suarez. 

Cast out of English football as a mercurial talent that wasn't worth the managerial headache, Ben Arfa has been simply unstoppable for Nice this season. His solo runs, dribbling skills and audacious goals have frequented weekly highlight reels. Barcelona, along with the rest of the footballing world, have been duly impressed.  

Ben Arfa’s career had reached a remarkable low in December of 2014. Having fallen out with then Newcastle United manager Alan Pardew, Ben Arfa was ostracized from the Newcastle lineup and sent out on loan to Hull City. Pardew claimed that he "became impossible" to manage at Newcastle. 

Ben Arfa managed to appear in only eight league matches for the relegation threatened Tigers, showing nowhere near the required amount of passion or intensity to help them survive the fight.

On December 15, 2014, with Hull languishing in the bottom three and requiring a bit of brilliance from someone like Ben Arfa, Hull City manager Steve Bruce admitted that he had “no idea where he is.” This statement didn't mean that Ben Arfa had the wrong mindset, it meant that he literally had no idea where he was — he could've been in Hull or in Paris for all Bruce knew. 

For a player that had arrived in Hull with a signficant amount of fanfare, his departure could hardly have been any more ridiculous. 

Hatem Ben Arfa Barcelona Transfer

Hatem Ben Arfa was a fan favorite with Newcastle United. Photo: @shieldsgazette | Twitter

Ben Arfa quit on his employers, preferring to return to Paris rather than showing some of the quality he’d shown while with Newcastle.


After being released from his Newcastle contract, Ben Arfa signed with Nice in France’s Ligue 1. This season, he’s been a revelation while scoring 18 goals in 35 matches. 

His form has seen him nominated for France’s Player of the Year award, return to the French national team and, now, “very probably” sign for Barcelona in the offseason. 

Ben Arfa certainly has the skill set to flourish in Barca, although it remains to be seen whether or not he’ll be able to demonstrate an improved temperament while playing time comes at a premium.

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