“To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist, that is all.”
‘What I’m going through at PSG is very complicated, I have the feeling I don’t exist,’
Hatem Ben Arfa
As the January 2018 window starts its final day, Newcastle have signed one player Kenedy on loan from Chelsea yet, if reports are to be believed, have missed out on the signatures of both Liverpool’s Daniel Sturridge, who opted for West Brom instead of The Magpies and Danish striker Nicolai Jorgensen from Feyenoord, among other targets.
“The natives are getting restless” is how The Chronicle’s legendary football reporter John Gibson describes fan unrest on Tyneside, a mass supporter state that has become almost the status quo during Mike Ashley’s 10-year reign as signings are demanded at the very least if not the takeover Ashley wants as soon as a realistic buyer meets his asking price.
Rafa Benitez outlined targets that he handed to Managing Director Lee Charnley before January 1 which have proved difficult to get over the line in a highly competitive market although the United boss still holds out hope the fresh blood and players he believes he needs to survive a relegation fight will arrive:
“We have some time. We have an important game tomorrow so I will not talk about the transfer window. I am still confident we can do something but I won’t talk much about it.
“Yes we are working on names as we have been working for more than on month on.
“We can see if anything will happen, but it depends on players coming too. Nothing is finished yet with those deals, so we will see.”
Clearly the Newcastle Manager expects the board to do their utmost to sign new players right up to the 11pm Wednesday deadline although fresh reports on Tuesday evening suggest Newcastle have exhausted the above list and are now turning their attention to new targets after Benitez stressed the importance of new recruits to the club’s owner.
With fans and the manager alike needing new signings and Newcastle needing a player who can score goals in the tight matches and stalemate situations that have seen the Magpies drop points at home against fellow strugglers Brighton, Swansea and Bournemouth, the solution could be existing in Paris and the rekindling of a former football flame.
Ever the artist on or off the pitch, PSG’s Hatem Ben Arfa poetically told Foot magazine:
“What I’m going through at PSG is very complicated, I have the feeling I don’t exist,’ Ben Arfa told French football magazine So Foot.
‘You have to learn to live with that. At some point, my life as a footballer will come to an end, there will be other testing times, like sickness.
‘But learning not to exist anymore after feeling like you existed after what you had done before, it’s hard.’
The talented French winger-cum-playmaker could be the genuine no. 10 that Newcastle have been crying out for all season, the man to grab crucial goals and set others up like he did in his first spell at Newcastle United when under Alan Pardew the club finished 5th top in The Premier League and reached the Quarter-Finals of The Europa League.
Like many a wizard of the dribble, Ben Arfa is as likely to lose the ball up a cul de sac of defenders as he is to score the worldie goals he is famous for in the colours of France, Newcastle, Nice, Marseille – even PSG where he scored with his first shot – yet has seen opportunities limited by the high-profile arrival of world record signing Neymar.
Yet he is the ultimate entertainer and alongside Newcastle’s loan signing Kenedy, could light up St. James’ Park in the mould of the entertainers he followed at the club from Chris Waddle to David Ginola, Paul Gascoigne To Laurent Robert. Its almost a Newcastle tradition to have some Gallic swagger on the wing and Ben Arfa, keen to revitalize both his career and his life, would sure jump at the chance to join fans that encouraged his genius:
“When they say Go Go Go…You Can Fly!”
Kevin Keegan always said the reason he put a team out as Newcastle manager was to entertain the 52,000 crowd who had worked hard all week and wanted to see something special at St. James’ Park to get them off their feet and glad to be alive:
“Football is my life. It is all about skill, passion and entertainment. But most of all it is about enjoyment,”
Enjoyment – like goals – has been in short supply at St. James’ Park of late after a long barren spell without a home Premier League win stretching back to October and a late Mikel Merino winner against Crystal Palace and both Matt Ritchie and Cristian Atsu have failed to make the impact in The Premier League that they did in The Championship.
With crucial games coming up against Burnley, Southampton, Huddersfield and West Brom in the final 14-game run-in, Newcastle need to find a way to creatively unlock tight defences by rivals who will come here seeking a point when Newcastle need three.
Kenedy with his effervescence, pace, energy and dribbling will inject some much needed colour into the black and whites and Ben Arfa in the team would double the effect having been one of the Top 5 dribblers in Europe during his time on Tyneside along with Messi.
His spell at Nice brought the best from the Frenchman as he added consistency and maturity to his game and 17 goals in 34 games and if Rafa Benitez could coax similar performances from him he could help save his former club from a relegation that never happened on his watch thanks to his goals and add a final happy chapter to a love affair with Tyneside that began with leg break heartache and could yet end in salvation.