Former Newcastle United cult hero ‘on the path to retirement’ after ‘fruitless’ new club search

The Frenchman was once a fan favourite at St James Park.

Mention the name Hatem Ben Arfa to Newcastle United supporters and you may be met with contrasting emotions and views.

On one hand, the former Marseille winger is viewed as one of the most naturally gifted players to grace St James Park during the club’s recent history.

But indications of that talent were few and far-between, with outstanding individual goals against Everton, Bolton Wanderers and Blackburn Rovers standing out like a sore thumb.

Ben Arfa’s time on Tyneside will be, much the same as the rest of his career, a story of largely unfulfilled potential.

His departure came amid reports of a falling out with then-Magpies manager Alan Pardew and accusations over his lack of fitness.

His career looked to be on the rocks as a short and unsuccessful loan spell with Hull City and his release from Newcastle left him without a club.

However, the mercurial winger did find some success during spells with Rennes and Nice - but has been without a club since leaving Lille at the end of last season.

Ben Arfa joined Les Dogues on a short-term deal in January but went on to make just nine appearances in all competitions, including two as a substitute in both legs of their Champions League Round of 16 tie against Chelsea.

Ironically, his one assist during his time with Lille came in a 5-1 defeat against former club Paris Saint-Germain, with current United star Sven Botman the beneficiary of a jinking run and cross from the winger.

One report in France has now suggested Ben Arfa’s fruitless search for a new club has left him to consider retiring at the age of 35.

MediaFoot have compared the former Magpies winger to former France team-mates Samir Nasri and Karim Benzema, but suggested he ‘did not have the career he should have had’.

Citing ‘strange career choices and not always acceptable behaviour’ the report describes Ben Arfa as ‘a wasted talent’ and believes he is on ‘the path to retirement’.