Newcastle United had some positives to take from the transfer window despite the fact they went yet another summer without breaking their long standing transfer record, but their failure to sign a number ten is certainly a notable cause for concern for the season ahead.
Rafa Benitez placed plenty of trust in the ability of Ayoze Perez last season as he consistently started him behind the striker even throughout particularly abject spells of form. The faith Benitez so consistently showed eventually paid off as the little Spaniard went on an excellent run of form during the business end of the 2017/18 season which ultimately helped the club steer clear of relegation.
However, with little by way of natural back up options to chose from, Perez looks set to undertake creative responsibility once again this season, which could ultimately prove problematic if he collects an injury.
With that in mind, Benitez would be wise to bring in a new attacking midfielder to supplement his options, and one player who should certainly be on his radar is the former Magpie Hatem Ben Arfa.
The 31-year-old Frenchman was recently released by Paris Saint-Germain after failing to break into the first-team amid intense competition for places from some of the world’s most talented players, and he is now available to sign on a free transfer.
Ben Arfa (valued at £4.5 million by Transfermarkt) spent a decent chunk of his senior career at Newcastle after arriving from Marseille on loan in August 2010 and he divided opinion throughout due to his perceived attitude problem which had a detrimental effect on the consistency and quality of his form.
On his day, Ben Arfa was a player whom could single-handedly turn a game on his head with his dazzling dribbling ability and tendency to create something from nothing, but he never managed to discover his most tantalising form on a regular basis.
It would undoubtedly represent a gamble to re-sign Ben Arfa considering what Newcastle already know about his erratic mentality, but some form of incentive based or pay-as-you-play type contract could help to bring the best out of him next season.
An injury to Ayoze Perez would leave Newcastle short of a creative technician to operate in between the lines of midfield and attack and, with the transfer window closed, signing Ben Arfa on a free transfer could be the necessary masterstroke which enables the Magpies to steer clear of a relegation scrap this season.
Newcastle fans – thoughts? Let us know below!