It’s fair to say Hatem Ben Arfa has turned his career around this past year. The Frenchman has finally turned his back on a Newcastle United tenure that showed so much promise yet faded so fast.
In fact, the 29-year-old’s widely successful spell at Nice last season has landed him a move to Ligue 1 champions Paris Saint-Germain. Ben Arfa will now find himself playing with stars such as Angel di Maria and Edinson Cavani.
However, defender David Luiz has been quick to mock the new signing upon his arrival to the Parc des Princes. The Brazilian has highlighted Ben Arfa’s eating habits as well as his effort, or absence of it, in training.
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Having trouble with his weight is nothing new for Ben Arfa. The summer of 2014 saw him exiled to train with the Newcastle youth ranks after gaining 2.5kg.
The 29-year-old insisted the weight rise was purely due to muscle build-up, but he was stripped of the coveted No. 10 jersey nonetheless. That same summer he was sent out on loan to Hull City in what proved a tumultuous six months.
Similarly, the winger received some unwanted criticism upon his Nice debut for appearing equally ‘portly’. Nonetheless, Ben Arfa appears back in shape upon his big move to the French capital.
It seems however, that Ben Arfa’s new teammate Luiz has been quick to take advantage of this history.
In an interview outside the PSG cafeteria, Luiz joked: “He is the last player to arrive at training, but the first player to eat!”
The Frenchman took the joke well though and replied: “When David has to eat he’s a lion. But when he has to train, he’s a cat!”
While it may appear a harmless joke by Luiz, Ben Arfa’s past weight issues do suggest it carries some substance.
Now that the 29-year-old is at one of Europe’s biggest clubs though, he’ll have to keep an even closer eye on his weight. The once written-off midfielder has belatedly sealed his big break and cannot afford to blow it.
For the club’s sake at least, it must be hoped Ben Arfa weaves his dribbling magic and doesn’t allow his fitness levels to slip.
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