Why Hatem Ben Arfa Would Be A Perfect January Signing For Leicester City
After a dismal start to the new season which saw them teetering dangerously close to the relegation zone, Leicester City are on the brink of improving. They put up a couple of encouraging displays after Craig Shakespeare’s infamous sacking. With Claude Puel at the helm of things at the King Power stadium now, the Foxes are looking at a re-build of the entire team.
Leicester have been linked with a move for Paris Saint Germain midfielder Hatem Ben Arfa. The rumours have intensified since Puel’s appointment. The former Southampton manager was in charge at Nice when Ben Arfa enjoyed his best-ever season. He played as an attacking midfielder, and truly elevated the French club’s performances in terms of their attack.
He scored 17 goals in 34 Ligue 1 games and was the undisputed star of a side that finished 4th in the table. However, things have not been so great for the player at PSG. He has only featured nine times for the French giants and was recently demoted to the reserves. Hence, all the indications are that Ben Arfa is likely to be desperate to leave PSG after what has been an unhappy period ever since he joined on a two-year deal in 2016.
In fact, Ben Arfa played just five league games for PSG last season and has not featured at all so far this campaign. The player was even left behind during the club’s summer tour of the United States, which only goes to point to the fact that Unai Emery truly has no space for him in the current squad, thus making a move to Leicester City sound enticing for Ben Arfa.
As of now, it looks like Leicester are playing a 4-2-3-1 formation under Puel and Ben Arfa will fit perfectly into that system as one of the three attacking midfielders. He could be deployed either in a central role or on the right-hand side. However, the Foxes already have reasonably strong options in those areas with the likes of Demerai Gray, Riyad Mahrez, Marc Albrighton, Andy King and Shinji Okazaki being present, which could again see the player struggle for game time.
Having said that, the Foxes will undoubtedly suffer if the solid Riyad Mahrez chooses to leave either in January or next summer. He was linked with an exit for the entire summer but he stayed back instead. The same cannot be said when the next transfer window rolls around.
If he moves on, Leicester would look to replace him and Ben Arfa would be a worthy target, considering his blistering performances for Nice. It is a very tricky proposition for Ben Arfa to immediately make an impact, considering he has not seen proper action in over a year. Regardless, the player enjoyed an excellent relationship with Puel at Nice, and he could the best person to bring Ben Arfa back to his best.
As far as experience goes, he is no stranger to the Premier League, having enjoyed a successful spell at Newcastle United, and he is still highly regarded among the fans. If Leicester and PSG could sort out a deal, Ben Arfa would most certainly be interested, and the Foxes could benefit from the move as well – making it a win-win situation for all parties involved.