Hatem Ben Arfa joins Real Valladolid
Real Valladolid have captured the signature of former French international player Hatem Ben Arfa on a deal until the end of the season.
The 32-year-old is vastly experienced, having plied his trade in the English Premier League and France’s Ligue 1 along with appearances in the Champions League and Europa League. He has been lauded by the media for his ability, once dubbed the “French Messi”, but has also drawn fierce criticism over a perceived selfishness and a lack of focus.
With 15 caps for his country to his name, Ben Arfa – who has dual French and Tunisian citizenship – made his debut for Les Bleus on October 13th 2007 away to the Faroe Islands. He got on the scoresheet in his first match, a 6-0 win. He last featured for France in November 2015, where he played 45 minutes against England in a friendly at Wembley before being replaced by Kingsley Coman at the break.
Ben Arfa began his senior career at Lyon, where he made 91 appearances (12 goals, 10 assists) and earned a €12 million transfer to rivals Olympique Marseille. He played the same number of matches as he did at Lyon and managed 15 goals and 10 assists between 2008 and late 2010. During this time, he was loaned out to Newcastle United briefly before making a €6 million switch to St. James Park in January 2011. With a brief loan spell at Hull City between September and December 2014, Ben Arfa stayed with the Magpies until January 2015.
He returned to his homeland and signed with O.G.C. Nice and bagged 18 goals during his time with them. A free transfer took him to giants Paris Saint Germain where his productivity dropped and he endured a fractious relationship with the club at times. After leaving P.S.G., Ben Arfa was most recently with Stade Rennais spending just short of ten months with them. Before signing for Real Valladolid today, he had been without a club since July of last year.
In total, he has scored 73 goals in 388 senior appearances but it may be his skill with the ball at his feet which may his strongest asset. Ben Arfa is gifted with close control, quick feet and the ability to change direction rapidly. As an attacking midfielder, he can also play on the wing and this versatility may well be of benefit to Real Valladolid’s strikers who have found goals hard to come by this season again.
There is no doubt that Ben Arfa’s arrival at the José Zorrilla is a surprising one, and somewhat risky given his propensity to alienate himself from some sections of support and those involved higher up in clubs he has played for, but the rewards are immense if he applies himself.