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Newcastle cult hero Hatem Ben Arfa joins Ligue 1 champions LOSC Lille

Last season’s Ligue 1 winners LOSC Lille have completed the signing of free agent and ex-Magpie Hatem Ben Arfa on a six-month contract. The Frenchman is beloved on Tyneside for his stint at the club.

The 34-year-old was one of the most exciting players to watch when he was at Newcastle. He had bags of pace, tricky feet and could seemingly dribble past anyone. A standout moment of his is the fantastic dribble he did against Bolton, finishing off the move with a cool finish.

Last season, the winger was let go Bordeaux. This will be Ben Arfa’s first taste of professional football since It’s not a bad move to join the current Ligue 1 champions, is it? They will be his sixth club since his Newcastle exit.

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Since leaving Tyneside, Ben Arfa has had ups and downs

The Frenchman left Newcastle in January 2015 to join Nice, after a disastrous loan spell at Hull City. He’d fallen out with then manager at the time Alan Pardew and appeared to be not match fit.

There were complications when he first arrived in the south of France. He wasn’t eligible to play as he had already played for Newcastle reserves and Hull that season and his contract was terminated. But then that summer he was re-signed by Nice.

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His first season there was impressive, grabbing 16 goals and six assists. He was sought after by many clubs but secured a move to the capital, signing with PSG. Ben Arfa didn’t make much of an impact in his first season, mostly making cup appearances. His second season didn’t see him play once and he left when his contract expired.

Ben Afra would then go to Rennes where he would score seven goals and two assists. Additionally, he would win the Coupe de France. But once again he would be on the move, joining Spanish side Real Valladolid in January 2020.

His spell in Spain was one to forget. He only made a few appearances and was then let go at the end of his six-month contract.

In October 2020 he joined Bordeaux, and started the season brightly. However, in the second half of the season he had injury problems and supposedly fell out with captain Laurent Koscielny and manager Jean-Louis Gasset.

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A man who never quite reached his full potential

With injuries and possible attitude problems, Ben Arfa has yet to reach his full potential. When he was at Newcastle you got the feeling he was on the verge of something special.

There were times he looked like he was in a league of his own. But since the fallout of his time on Tyneside, Ben Arfa has really yet to settle anywhere. Who knows, perhaps at Lille he can become a man reborn.

History would suggest not and he will probably move from Lille in a season or two. However, in the sometimes strange world of football, never say never.

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