Hatem Ben Arfa's journey from Newcastle United to PSG

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Paris Saint-Germain may have lost one enigmatic star in Zlatan Ibrahimovic at the end of last season, but they signed another in Hatem Ben Arfa at the start of the transfer window.

Ben Arfa's career has gone in a completely different direction to that of Zlatan's, of course, but PSG's latest signing, at 29-years-old, could finally come to prominence on the elite stage. 

Indeed, when he left Newcastle (after a short loan spell at Hull City) in favour of a move to Ligue 1 side Nice back in 2015, not too many people would have expected PSG to pick him up just one year later. 


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The erratic Frenchman should have played out the prime of his career at St James' Park, but that, evidently, did not transpire. 

Many things went wrong and it's fair to say that his former manager, Alan Pardew, did not help his cause. 

Newcastle hell 

After joining Nice, Ben Arfa duly explained what life had been like under Pardew. He stated, as per the Mail: "It was a very, very difficult period. The worst of my career. It was as if my hell began at Newcastle.

"There, on the first day back in August 2014, I was placed directly with the reserves. A terrible humiliation. Weeks passed and I was always with these young 16 and 17-year-olds on land away from the pros.

"I did not understand. They gave me a nightmare. It was full of little cheap shots. And when I believed in me [getting out] by signing for Nice, they were forbidden to hire me (until July).

It really was a nightmare for Ben Arfa; he had spent six long months away from the first team and his career was well and truly stagnating. In fact, he has claimed that his final six months in the Premier League were 'hell'.

"I had the feeling of being locked in a dark room without a door, or in an endless tunnel.

"I saw hell and especially no solution to my problems. At that time, I was wrong, I did not see any light. I was a prisoner.

"I was slapping myself every day to not let go.

"I tried to convince myself that the light was coming back, I was going to find the right path.

"By signing this summer with Nice, I really felt out of hell. In fact, that's it, I come back from hell."

But it wasn't always like this, of course; Ben Arfa had his faults, but he was clearly one of the most talented players at the club throughout his stint on English soil.

His outrageous solo goal against Bolton back in 2012 will live long in the memory of the Geordie faithful, who were seemingly desperate for their stylish star to produce the goods on a consistent basis. 

But Ben Arfa was anything but a consistent performer for Newcastle. Moments of brilliance were never going to be enough for him to succeed in the Premier League. How much of that was his fault, though?  

Making 76 Premier League appearances for Newcastle (28 of them from the bench), he found the back of the net on 13 occasions and racked up 12 assists. That's not exactly a dismal record for a player who clearly wasn't let off the leash under Pardew's guidance. 

Ultimately, though, he failed to reach his potential and was finally handed the opportunity to move back to France last summer. Unsurprisingly, after living through 'hell' during his final few months at Newcastle, Ben Arfa arrived at Nice looking out of shape. 

Nice redemption 

But then the transition started; hard work paid off and Ben Arfa was handed a starting spot in Nice's Ligue 1 opener against Monaco. The day didn't go to play - Nice lost 2-1 on home soil and Ben Arfa was substituted after 62 minutes - but there were promising signs.  

In the following game, Ben Arfa well and truly emerged as he scored his first league goal of the season during a 3-3 draw away at Troyes. He was suddenly playing with the confidence and rhythm that had previously eluded him in England. 

How did this transformation take place so quickly? Well, first thing's first, he was handed a central role. Not only was he acting as Nice's talismanic figure, but he was taking control of games from the middle of the field. The days of being isolated on the wing at St James' Park were quickly forgotten and he was beautifully yet ruthlessly taking centre stage. 

Scoring 17 goals in 34 league games to help his side secure fourth place in the division was an impressive return. His best performance was saved for April when he netted a sublime hat-trick during his side's impeccable 3-0 victory over Rennes. Substituted in the 89th minute, Ben Arfa was handed the glorious reception he deserved by the adoring home faithful. 

It was been a truly remarkable period for a player who was made redundant on Tyneside.

PSG chance 

There were, unsurprisingly, calls for Didier Deschamps to call him up to the Frace squad for Euro 2016. That didn't happen, but Ben Arfa was still duly rewarded. As you know, Newcastle's former outcast is now gearing up for a campaign with current Ligue 1 champions PSG. 

Ben Arfa is set to star on Europe's greatest stage and there's absolutely no reason why he won't thrive on it. It hasn't taken long for David Luiz, another fascinating character, to give an insight into just what his new teammate is like. 

“He is the last player to arrive at training, but the first player to eat!”         

The unpredictable Ben Arfa is by no means the finished product and some of his faults may still remain, but if he's offered the opportunity to express himself at the Parc des Princes then there really could be no stopping him. Better late than never in Ben Arfa's case. 

Do you expect Ben Arfa to be successful at PSG? Have your say below! 

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Ligue 1
Alan Shearer
David Luiz
Newcastle United
Hatem Ben Arfa
Transfer News
Premier League
Paris Saint-Germain

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