Why Spurs should roll the dice on this Newcastle outcast
Two years ago, Hatem Ben Arfa finally looked close to making good on the abundant potential he had displayed since starting his career at Lyon.
A fine season for Newcastle United was followed by a call-up to the France squad for Euro 2012, and almost all of the Premier League’s elite were rumoured to be taking an interest in the winger.
Fast-track to present day and Ben Arfa is an outcast at Newcastle, consigned to training with the youth teams after reportedly turning up for pre-season overweight.
The Magpies have enjoyed an unusually active summer in the transfer market, and their smart additions make their 10/11 price to finish in the top ten a fine bet.
The 27-year-old’s spell on Tyneside looks set to end in disgrace, but Tottenham Hotspur are one side who should be considering keeping Ben Arfa in the Premier League.
For all his faults, the Frenchman is still a player capable of producing a moment of magic in any game, the kind of wildcard that could serve Spurs well if Mauricio Pochettino could get him motivated.
For each of the past three seasons Ben Arfa has been in the Premier League’s top-six players in terms of dribbles completed.
While the wing wizard has not always converted his take-on prowess into an end product, he did register five goals and five assists in 26 league appearances during the 2011-12 season.
Ben Arfa was a key to the Magpies fifth-place finish that year, and even last season, when he was rarely used by Alan Pardew, the 27-year-old bagged three goals and three assists.
Spurs are currently plagued by a surfeit of unproductive wingers, with Aaron Lennon, Andros Townsend, Nacer Chadli and Erik Lamela all still on their books.
Ben Arfa actually outperformed all of that quartet in the league last season, and although Lamela, Chadli and Townsend are still deserving of time under Pochettino, the Frenchman could be an excellent replacement for the perpetually disappointing Lennon.
Spurs are 7/2 to claim a place in the top four in their first campaign under the former Southampton boss.