Hatem Ben Arfa left Newcastle over the summer under much criticism.
French international winger Ben Arfa left Newcastle on transfer deadline day, signing with Hull City on a season-long loan.
A fan favourite at St James’ Park, manager Alan Pardew came under much criticism for letting the talented 27-year-old leave the club, but he has been rarely thought about in the last few weeks, with the Magpies shooting up the Premier League table, and Ben Arfa struggling for game time with the Tigers languishing just two points above the relegation places.
With the Frenchman’s contract expiring at the end of the season, Ben Arfa is all but guaranteed to be leaving the North East on a free-transfer, and fans reacted angrily when announced that he would likely never feature in a black-and-white shirt again.
However, the feelings of negativity have dissipated at St James’ Park as the Toon enjoyed a run of five consecutive victories heading into the international break, and Ben Arfa’s departure could prove to be the key to any success Newcastle enjoy in the future.
Helped by a number of injuries to key first-team stars, Ben Arfa has been replaced in the starting XI by a selection of young academy prospects, with Rolando Aarons, Sammy Ameobi and Mehdi Abeid all making the step up into the Frenchman’s void. And it has been these youngsters who have been important figures in the upturn in fortunes enjoyed in recent weeks.
If Ben Arfa had remained at St James’ Park this term, it is highly possible that Aarons would not have made his debut at the same point as he did this season, thus, having little impact upon games as he has.
It has been the successes of the young players graduated to the first-team by Pardew which has had Newcastle fans excited for the future again, after a couple of years of mid-table mediocrity, and, with locals making the grade, the club are restoring the sense of identity associated with being a Geordie club.
Ben Arfa’s loss was felt heavily on Tyneside, and there is the argument that he could only make the current team stronger if he were playing alongside the youngsters. However, the Frenchman - who has often been criticised for his attitude - clearly did not want to remain at St James’ Park, and, in return, Newcastle can field a number of players willing to do anything to fight for Newcastle’s Premier League success.