Hatem Ben Arfa is one of football's most frustrating characters. The Frenchman is the type of footballer every fan would want to see donning the shirt of their beloved team. On his day, that is.
Sometimes marvellous, sometimes infuriating, Ben Arfa seems to either dazzle or fade away during games with not much in-between. He is either firing on all cylinders or chugging along at a snail's pace.
It wasn't too long ago that he was raised as a potential target for the likes of Arsenal and Manchester United due to his scintillating form. Oh, how things have changed since then.
Several ineffective and lazy performances have meant he can't even force his way into a starting role on Tyneside.
Much could be said of his ability to win games single-handedly, with a winning goal against Fulham and a goal in the win at Aston VIlla already this season. However, Alan Pardew has overlooked that and picked Shola Ameobi recently, favouring a simple 4-4-2 system.
It's not easy fitting a maverick winger into a flat 4-4-2 formation. The trickster hasn't even featured from the bench in the side's recent victories against Chelsea and Tottenham and it's probably the left-footed star's inability to track back that has cost him his place in the side.
The main thing that's been missing from Ben Arfa's game since his arrival on these shores is consistency. He has shown several flashes of brilliance with individual goals (against Blackburn and Bolton) and game-winning performances. However, they have been literal flashes with no sign of repeating this week-in week-out.
His playing style is surely more suited to a side that are going to dominate possession and constantly attack, making him a perfect fit for a big club. At the same time, it's making the winger a shoddy fit in Newcastle's system.
There is no doubt of Ben Arfa's overall ability. In the summer, Liverpool were reported to make a formal approach for the playmaker and there was interest from Monaco but he stayed at Newcastle, hoping to enjoy a rare injury-free season.
With the upcoming 2014 World Cup, Ben Arfa apologised for his actions while on duty with France in September and has pleaded for a chance to represent his country again.
However, he will certainly have no chance of breaking into the foray with the national side if he isn't playing for the Magpies.
So, it's over to Pardew to solve the conundrum that is Hatem Ben Arfa and get the consistency he lacks in his game. Otherwise, one of the big guns will surely take a worthwhile punt.
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