Hatem Ben Arfa has had something of a resurgence of form since signing for Rennes in Ligue 1 last September, with Newcastle fans all too aware of his enigmatic talent.
He was a cult figure on Tyneside, and lit up St James’ Park with some wonderful goals, many of them following his traditional mazy runs through the opposition’s mesmerised players.
With a wand of a left foot, he was the type of player that got fans on their feet, and left viewers open-mouthed in awe of what they had just seen.
But that was not often the case. Often berated by managers of his various clubs for having a poor attitude, or being a disruption in the dressing room, and having a negative attitude.
His best playing spell was with Newcastle, and the fans adored him, with many believing he was regularly wrongly overlooked for the starting lineup, and more often than not, found himself on the bench.
Newcastle fans never needed much of an excuse to deride then manager, Alan Pardew, but they were particularly vitriolic towards him over his treatment of Ben Arfa.
With the team struggling in games, the crowd would chant for their unpredictable star, believing he could been a potential match-winner, but Pardew seemed belligerent in his refusal to give the fans what they wanted, leading many to ask why he bothered putting him on the bench at all.
The strained relationship between Pardew and Ben Arfa would see the play shipped out on loan to Hull City, prior to the club terminating his contract in January 2015 — ironically, the day after Pardew had taken over the manager’s role at Crystal Palace.
Most of the Newcastle fans were not pleased, and had seen the clubs handling of the player as shambolic, long before his loan to Hull, and subsequent departure.
Here are some of their reactions from the time:
— Nigel (@TriumphGuy09) January 4, 2015
@NUFC good to see you’ve managed his talent well… What a waste
— Louis (@louis_495) January 4, 2015
— Mark (@Mark74NUFC) January 4, 2015
@NUFC would love to see a detailed statement from those within the club as to what was wrong with him
— Dan Reeves (@DanielDaManiel9) January 4, 2015
@NUFC shame on you best flair player in squad, good luck Hatem
— neale johnson (@nealejohnson1) January 4, 2015
@NUFC anyone happy at this needs to realise there was more talent in this guys small toe than in Cabella, Obertan and Gouffran combined.
— LT (@lewy7) January 4, 2015
— Jules AFC (@JulesCoxell87) January 4, 2015
@NUFC Can’t help but think this lad has been badly handled – we can’t afford to lose talent like this
— martin young (@martinyoung5) January 4, 2015
@NUFC good bit of business, buy a decent player for 6 million, don’t play him then release rather than sell him!
— Jordan Taylor (@JordanT999) January 4, 2015