Hatem Ben Arfa


Name: Hatem Ben Arfa
Squad number: 26
Nationality: French
Born: 7th March, 1987, Clamart, France
Height: 179cm
Weight: 85kg
Previous clubs: Lyon, Marseille
Signed: August 2010 from Marseille (loan which became permanent in January 2011)
Newcastle United debut: 11th September, 2010 v Blackpool (home), Premier League
Position: Midfielder/Forward



Hatem Ben Arfa arrived at Newcastle, initially on loan from Marseille, on 27th August, 2010.


The Frenchman took on the number 37 shirt, agreeing a season-long loan on Tyneside and made his debut soon after as a substitute in a 2-0 home defeat at the hands of Blackpool.


His full debut came on 18th September, 2010, away at Everton, where Ben Arfa also broke his goalscoring duck with a 25-yard screamer - the only goal of the game.


The playmaker suffered an horrific double leg break at Manchester City at the start of the following month, but Ben Arfa had shown enough promise in his four appearances in the black and white stripes for Newcastle to sign him on a permanent deal - a four-and-a-half-year contract - at the turn of the year. 


Ben Arfa battled back to fitness and was training with the first team squad again by the end of the season, although had to wait until July 2011 to make his comeback, in a pre-season friendly at Darlington.


However, an ankle injury sustained against Sporting Kansas City kept him sidelined until September, when Ben Arfa was back in the first team at Nottingham Forest in the Carling Cup.


His first goal of the season came on Boxing Day away at Bolton in a 2-0 win, while soon after he grabbed a Goal of the Season contender with a stunning individual effort against Blackburn in the FA Cup.


That strike was to be overshadowed, however, in April against Bolton, when Ben Arfa picked up the ball deep inside his own half, and proceeded to weave through the heart of the Trotters' team, riding challenge after challenge before knocking the ball home.



Early Days


Born in the Parisian suburb of Clamart, Ben Arfa came to prominence at France's famous Clairefontaine youth academy and signed for Olympique Lyonnais in 2002.


He signed his first professional contract in August 2004, and made his senior team debut the same month on the opening day of the season against Nice.


Ben Arfa got regular football - including Champions League action - during four seasons at Lyon, before he transferred to Marseille in the summer of 2008.


In two full seasons with Les Phoceens, he made 89 appearances, scoring 15 goals, and Ben Arfa helped them to the Ligue 1 title at the end of the 2009/10 season.



International Career


Ben Arfa made his Under 16 debut for France in 2003, and then went on to be part of Under 17 side which won the 2004 Uefa European Under 17 Championships.


The forward also represented Les Bleus' Under 18s, Under 19s and Under 21s, before being called up to the senior squad for the first time in October 2007, when he made a goalscoring debut against the Faroe Islands in a 6-0 win that month.


Ben Arfa was part of the France squad at Euro 2012, making two appearances as they reached the quarter-finals of the tournament.