Hatem Ben Arfa proves his quality for Nice

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It has been a lack of application, rather than talent, which has caused Hatem Ben Arfa's career to stutter over the years. He is undoubtedly one of the most naturally skilful attacking players in the world, but his lack of discipline has cost him dear during his career.

Prodigious talent

It all started so promisingly for the Frenchman. He graduated from the prestigious Clairefontaine academy along with fellow tricky winger Samir Nasri and was then recruited by Lyon who beat a number of big French clubs to his signature.

He was once one of the most exciting talents in the game and was scouted by a host of major European clubs. Along with fellow academy prodigy Karim Benzema, Ben Arfa was then fast-tracked into the Lyon first team and made his debut at the age of just 17. He thrived at Lyon, particularly after the club sold Florent Malouda.


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More faith was put in the youngster and he repaid it by producing some impressive performances which saw him rewarded with the coveted Young Player of the Year award for Ligue 1.

Marseille win battle for his signature

After a falling out with several Lyon players, including veteran defender Sebastian Squillaci and fellow promising youngster Karim Benzema, it was clear that Ben Arfa could be prized away from the club if the right offer came in. Real Madrid, Arsenal, Everton and Manchester United were all thought to have bid for the winger. It was French rivals Marseille, however, who landed the signing for a reported £10 million.

His career with L'OM started brilliantly, scoring on his debut and then a further five goals in his next ten matches. His time at the club was marred with controversy as he once again clashed with players and staff alike - once falling out with manager Eric Gerets after refusing to leave the bench to warm up.

After just two seasons with Marseille, it was again time to move on after his bust-ups had once again tarnished his reputation and cast him as a bad boy.

Mixed performances in England

Newcastle was the club to take a gamble on him. Magpies fans will look back with regret over Ben Arfa's time on Tyneside. Early on in his career in England he suffered a double broken leg after a tackle from Nigel de Jong. He subsequently spent the whole 2010-2011 season recovering and failed to make a single appearance afterwards.

Over the following years, Ben Arfa began to establish himself as a fans' favourite, a player capable of turning a game with his brilliant dribbling and lethal finishing. He will forever be remembered for his two sensational goals against Middlesborough and most notably Bolton Wanderers, where a fully-fit Ben Arfa ran from his own half, beating the majority of the opposing defence before calmly slotting the ball into the goal. It was a moment of sheer magic.

Revival with Nice

His inconsistency and apparent reluctance to defend meant that Newcastle let their talented winger go - via an unsuccessful loan spell at Hull City - selling him to French side Nice in January 2015. It was clear that he was happy to be going back to a country where he felt valued, where he didn't feel under the constant glare of the critical British press.

Watching Ben Arfa this season has been a joy - he has played with total freedom and has started scoring goals once more. Nice beat high-flying Saint-Etienne 1-4 away from home on Sunday and it was their magician once more that was the catalyst for the victory, as he scored two goals before halftime, including one absolutely stunning goal that even Lionel Messi would have been proud of.

International recall?

So far this season he has scored an impressive six goals from eight games and leads the scoring charts with PSG striker Edinson Cavani. He is arguably the most in-form player in Ligue 1 and after another match-winning performance last night, surely France manager Didier Deschamps will be keeping a close eye on his progress as the European Championships draw closer. Perhaps he will be the one to profit from Nabil Fekir's nightmare knee injury and gatecrash a shock place in the French squad.

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Hatem Ben Arfa

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