French winger Hatem Ben Arfa has endured a horrible season with Paris Saint-Germain having signed for the capital club in July 2016, after a sensational campaign with Nice. The ex-Newcastle United winger was in blistering form for the club based in the south of France and scored 18 times in 37 appearances for them before moving to Unai Emery’s side in order to rejuvenate his career with the French national team and get more playing time in the UEFA Champions League.
Surrounded by star names, Ben Arfa has seen starts for the club hard to come by and has only scored four goals in total – all of them coming in either the Coupe de la Ligue or the Coupe de France, mostly against lower league opposition. Less than 12 months into his stay at the club, Ben Arfa looks set to leave them and there is no shortage of interest for the tenacious winger.
At this point, the most realistic move for him is going back to Nice, with the Nice president, Jean-Pierre Rivere, already publicly declaring that they would be interested in bringing back their former winger to the Allianz Riviera. Nice have attained qualification to the Champions League play-offs, overcoming the challenge of usual contenders Lyon and Marseille and returning there would guarantee first-team football at the highest level for Ben Arfa. In addition to that, staying local in a place he knows so well would boost his chances of returning to the French national team.
Amongst his suitors, there is sure to be interest from England, where he has a lot of unfinished business, having failed to fulfil his potential with Newcastle United. The Toon are now back in the Premier League, and an experienced, more mature Ben Arfa, under the tutelage of Rafael Benitez, would be a great move for both parties. However, this deal seems unlikely, due to his previous experiences which ended in turmoil with the fans and owner Mike Ashley.
Another option in England would be on the south coast, with Southampton, where he would reunite with Claude Puel, who he worked with during his successful spell at Nice. This move also seems to have its problems, however. Puel’s future looks to be in doubt at St. Mary’s with fans having turned on him after a dire season of on-pitch performances, despite achieving and eighth-placed finish and finishing runners-up in the EFL Cup. There are also a number of options out-wide for Southampton, with the likes of Nathan Redmond and Dušan Tadic, amongst many others, already at the club.
Finally, his last possible option in England would be to the capital, with West Ham United, who could finally land their replacement for Dimitri Payet, six months after he left the club. The Hammers have been reliant on Manuel Lanzini for creativity this season, and adding a technician like Ben Arfa makes perfect sense for them. He is now in the right frame of mind, and at the age of 30, with just one year left on his contract at Paris Saint-Germain, it is unlikely to cost them too much. Ben Arfa’s experience could be vital for them as West Ham look for a better second season at the Olympic Stadium.
Away from England, Ben Arfa could land in Spain with Sevilla, who attempted to sign him up on a free transfer last season before he moved to Paris, as reported by ESPN. The Spanish side also provide the prospect of Champions League football, having finished fourth in La Liga. A move could be hard to complete, however, as Sevilla’s existing options have done a decent job this season, and the departure of Sporting Director Monchi, as well as manager Jorge Sampaoli, who looks set to take the Argentine national team role, could put this second attempt to sign him up in doubt.
Also, there is interest from Italy, where both Milan clubs, Inter and AC, have shown prior interest in the winger. AC Milan have greater spending power in the market under new owner Li Yonghong. Both clubs from the city need greater attacking options and AC Milan provide a shot at the Europa League having qualified for European competition for the first time in three seasons. Inter, however, still need to appoint a new manager, having sacked Stefano Pioli in May and transfer plans could be scuppered by the new management.
Whether it’s France, England, Italy or Spain, Ben Arfa is sure to provide an injection of skill and tenacity to his new club and at the age of 30, brings a certain amount of experience. There will be no shortage of suitors for his services, and this would be the right time to sign him up as he looks to put things right ahead of the final stages of his playing career.