Leicester City supporters have been pretty quiet in the Transfer Tavern in the last few days after seeing their side only muster a 1-1 draw at home to Premier League strugglers Swansea City on Saturday, thus seeing them miss the chance to leapfrog Burnley into seventh place in the table.
Claude Puel’s men went into their clash with the South Wales outfit off the back of losing 2-1 to Everton in midweek, yet Burnley’s 1-1 draw at home to Manchester City earlier on Saturday left the door open for the Foxes to move above the Clarets in the table. And Jamie Vardy’s first half goal set them on course to do just that, but Federico Fernandez’s effort eight minutes into the second period clinched a point for Carlos Carvalhal’s side, who subsequently moved out of the relegation zone on goal difference.
Consequently, there have been a few disappointed Leicester fans in the Tavern in recent times, several of whom have been discussing the recent saga surrounding the future of winger Riyad Mahrez following the breakdown of his deadline day move to runaway leaders Man City.
The 26-year-old has since failed to report to training to suggest that his mind is firmly away from the Foxes, and with a summer move seemingly inevitable and perhaps in the best interests of all parties involved, Puel’s men must seek a replacement for the hugely influential ace, and as such must land former Newcastle man Hatem Ben Arfa in the summer.
And that’s because, although the Frenchman wasn’t hugely prolific during his stint in the North East, Puel got the very best out of him during their time at Nice, and there’s little doubt that the 30-year-old has the ability to flourish in England’s top-flight.
Ultimately, it was under the now-Leicester chief that Ben Arfa produced his most impressive season of his career, with the attacker netting 18 goals and laying on seven assists in just 37 appearances for the club, helping them to fourth place in Ligue 1.
That also earned him a move to French giants Paris Saint-Germain that summer, yet things simply haven’t worked out for the forward at the Parc des Princes, to the point that he has not featured at all under Unai Emery this season.
Thus, it’s clear that Puel knows exactly how to get the best out of the French attacker, as that one season at Nice stands alone as the best and most consistent Ben Arfa has produced in his career to date – he could do that again at Leicester.
The talent has always been there, as evidenced by his glimpses of brilliance at Newcastle and indeed Hull City – it was just a case of finding that level of consistency to make him the top player that his ability has always suggested he could be.
And were wantaway Mahrez to indeed leave the club this summer, a move which looks seemingly inevitable, the Foxes will have to replace him with another match-winner, another individual capable of moments of magic to turn a game. And Ben Arfa under Puel’s guidance could be that man.
Thus, his prior success under the now-Leicester boss, as well as the fact his contract is up in the summer, should seriously interest the club’s hierarchy, who simply must land the £7.2 million-rated ace (as per Transfermarkt) this summer to minimise the impact of Mahrez’s likely departure.
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