Liverpool defender Mamadou Sakho has endorsed the talents of compatriot Hatem Ben Arfa, suggesting that the former Newcastle United man has impressed him more than Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi.
Ben Arfa is a player who has often flattered to deceive with his potential, offering a fairly tepid showcase during his time in England and only rarely giving glimpses as to the dazzling player he can be.
Sakho backs Ben Arfa
Yet, Sakho, who could potentially feature alongside Ben Arfa if both are selected in France’s squad for the 2016 European Championships, believes that the winger can do ‘exceptional’ things on the pitch, perhaps throwing his weight behind the 29-year-old being recalled to the international fold.
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"I’ve played against Messi and Ronaldo, maybe they were not in their best form against me, but the opponents who has impressed me more was Hatem Ben Arfa at Lyon," the former Paris Saint-Germain defender told BeIN Sport, as relayed by Goal.
"What he can do on the field is exceptional."
Of course, that’s not to say that Ronaldo and Messi aren’t capable of exceptional feats too. They may not have managed to capture the imaginations of Sakho as much as they’ve captivated virtually everyone else in world football, but they remain football’s two greatest juggernauts.
At one point in time it could have been argued that Ben Arfa had the ability to be up there with the best in the world, such was his burgeoning reputation as a youngster in France.
Not lived up to the hype
However, to say that he’s lived up to the hype would neglect the simple fact that his attitude towards the game, especially during his years with Newcastle, simply didn’t match the natural talent he so obviously possesses.
Sakho’s probably right with his backing of Ben Arfa for an international spot with France. In actual fact, though, it’s indicative of the Nice man’s career that his compatriot has to do so in the first place.