Ben Arfa: Heading back to France sooner than expected…By: Sarah | October 3rd, 2010
Ben Arfa Stretchered Off in Newcastle’s game versus Manchester City
And not under the best of circumstance. Though it would have been hard to guess that he would be returning to France in worse condition than when he left. When Hatem left, he boycotted training at Marseille to push forward a (previously agreed upon) loan to Newcastle. A month later, he returns with leg fractured in two places.
I didn’t agree with his decision to boycott- but I understood his frustration with Marseille. And being a huge fan myself, I just wanted to see him play. In Newcastle, he had an opportunity to pull the strings in the team without all the pressure he had at Lyon and Marseille. He was doing well on the field and he was appreciated. In only his 4th game (and 3rd start) for Newcastle this morning, he was barely getting started when Nigel De Jong took him out in 4th minute of the game.
According to RMC, who reportedly spoke to Ben Arfa’s advisor (Michel Ouazine), Ben Arfa has a double fracture on his left leg’s tibia-fibula. He is scheduled to undergo an operation in Manchester, and not France as originally suggested, to avoid the risk of a blood clot. Ben Arfa is expected to return to France to recover and isn’t not expected to be available again for Newcastle until February.
Since Ben Arfa is on loan to Newcastle, this lay-off will likely mean that he will not make enough appearances to trigger the automatic buy-out clause in the loan agreement (25 appearances). That puts the midfielders future even more in limbo – Newcastle may still choose to purchase the player or he may be returning to Marseille. And while Ben Arfa has always been clear that he left because of differences with Deschamps (and not the club itself or the club’s fans), a return to Marseille would never give him the same opportunity of a “clean slate” that he had in Newcastle.
And I do hope that Newcastle don’t completely give up on him. Its a big loss – and we don’t know if he will be the same player after (physically or psychologically). But Hatem was willing to put his career on the line – and he literally did put his body on the line – to play for them. I hope they can be patient enough to give him another chance. But, then again – these days football is ruled by money. And 3 games may not be enough for Newcastle to feel comfortable pulling the trigger on the purchase, especially if he only has a few months in the end to return to form.
All I can say is that I hope that this time off provides Hatem with some psychological relief instead of additional stress. For a player who has always had skill and movement come so naturally to him – perhaps a few months where that ability is lost will give him some perspective. Hatem has twice said he could quit football – I’ll be curious to see how he deals with not having a choice to play at all. Its a cruel lesson to learn and I REALLY didn’t want it to be learned this way (afterall, he was flourishing at NUFC). But, if something good was to come from this…
I’m not going to go into if this was a “fair” tackle or the “intent” of De Jong. Sure, I could tout out all the evidence against De Jong such as his technique while defending against Xabi Alonso this summer in the World Cup finals. But, at the end of the day, De Jong wasn’t even carded for his tackle on Hatem. It was adjudicated to be fair and in the EPL those are the rules.
So, for all the Ligue 1 players who think they need to leave for the EPL to “make” their career – just remember the risk you are taking for a few extra bucks…