Reports have been rife today that Liverpool are very interested in signing French midfielder, Hatem Ben Arfa, from Newcastle United for around £6 million. The 27-year-old has fallen out with boss, Alan Pardew, and has been removed from first-team training. Ability wise, on his day, the French international is an excellent player, but any interest from Brendan Rodgers would be a disaster for Liverpool both on and off the pitch. If the club is smart they would stay well away from the midfielder.
Both sides will claim their innocence and it’s hard to tell who to believe. There is no doubt that Pardew has a temper, just ask Hull City’s David Meyler. However, for Ben Arfa, this is an all too common occurrence, his time at both Marseille and Lyon ended after he fell out with the people in charge. He was supposed to be a changed man in the North-East, but it seems it is far too hard for this leopard to change his spots.
Liverpool are on the brink of sealing their first English title for 24 years and they will at least be re-joining Europe’s elite in the Champions League next season, the last thing they need is a rotten apple disrupting the mood at Anfield.
Back in 2008 when Ben Arfa fell out with the now France boss, Didier Deschamps, the Marseille coach made these stark comments.
"I could help him - I can help him - but he has the key to the situation," he said. "It's a matter of balance. Football at a high level has expectations. I know he can beat four opponents any time, but football is not only that. You must play with and off the ball. You need consistency. To sum it up, he's talented but only uses it sporadically."
That was when Ben Arfa was 22 years old, and it could quite easily sum up the player now five-years later. There has always been hope that he would grow up, it looks like it hasn’t happened.
Ben Arfa is no longer a young talented prospect, at 27 he should be someone that players look up to. Liverpool have a great crop of young players coming through and the last thing that Brendan Rodgers needs is someone like the troubled Frenchman coming in and pulling the same tricks that have plagued his career.
As Deschamps said in 2008, Ben Arfa has the talented, with that there is no doubt, but for £6 million you risk signing a player that could do more harm than good. Right now the attitude at Anfield hasn’t been greater for a number of years.
Rodgers aim for this summer should be to bring in players that reinforce that attitude not disrupt it.