After managing to save his career with an incredible season with Nice in Ligue 1, Hatem Ben Arfa is on the verge of throwing away his chance with Paris Saint Germain. He revived his reputation last season as he was focused on his football and appeared to revel in the freedom that he was afforded by Claude Puel. The winger has always talked about his desire to move to the Parc des Princes, but it looks like his attitude is once again preventing him from having success on the pitch.
Ben Arfa has been left out of the last three matchday squads amidst concerns about his attitude from his manager Unai Emery. Over the summer, the president Nasser El-Khelaifi brought the French international to Paris as he is talented and was available on a free. However, the new coach is a stickler for discipline and demands high work rate from all of his players. It was inevitable that he was going to clash with the mercurial Ben Arfa at some point and it has arrived sooner rather than later. Emery was quoted in L’Equipe recently as saying: ‘You’re not Messi’.
It is disappointing to see the winger’s attitude once again come in the way of his ability. He finally reached a level that was equivalent to his talent, but he it now looks unlikely that he will succeed at PSG. The rift between him and the manager is already significant, leaving the possibility that he could leave as early as January. Claude Puel helped the French maverick to relaunch his career once and could be tempted to bring him to England in 2017.
The Mirror report that Southampton are keeping tabs on the situation with Puel being a huge fan of the player he managed last season. It is only rumours at the moment, but it is a move that would make sense for all parties if the winger’s situation doesn’t improve under Emery. PSG will want to get him away from the training ground and the links with Puel make a move to Southampton a real possibility.
Saints do have some excellent central options, with Nathan Redmond and Sofiane Boufal both arriving over summer. It is difficult to see where Ben Arfa will fit in alongside those two and Tadic. If a move for the Frenchman does go ahead, it could force Puel into a change in system, as he will have to accommodate his plethora of attacking talent. A move to a 4-2-3-1 formation would allow Boufal, Redmond and Ben Arfa to compete for the wing positions, while Tadic plays centrally. It also allows Charlie Austin to start who has been in great form and provides a focal point in the attacking half.
At the age of 29, a move for Ben Arfa may not appeal to the Southampton board. He will cost upwards of £15 million and it is a huge risk due to his attitude problems. Although Claude Puel has a good relationship with the winger, there are no guarantees that Southampton won’t change managers in the next 12 months. For that reason, it would be unwise to bring a decisive character like Ben Arfa to St Mary’s Stadium.
It would be a coup to bring Hatem Ben Arfa to Southampton, as he has the talent to take the side onto a new level. However, the baggage that he brings will worry the board and they may see it as a risk too far. The club normally look to bring hungry, young players to the club that can grow and be sold on. The PSG attacker doesn’t fit into the transfer policy and as Southampton already have a good set of attacking options, they should avoid Ben Arfa in January.
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