Newcastle boss Alan Pardew has challenged Hatem Ben Arfa to force his way into the France team by becoming a regular match-winner.
The 26-year-old has established himself as a fans’ favourite at St James’ Park with his breath-taking brand of football, which he used to stunning effect when he produced a piece of individual brilliance to secure a last-gasp 1-0 victory over Fulham a fortnight ago.
Pardew was left both lauding the former Marseille winger’s mercurial talent and bemoaning his maverick approach to the game afterwards.
However, he is confident he has a potential football genius on his hands and believes if he can find a level of consistency, he can take the Barclays Premier League by storm and make a major impact on the international stage.
Pardew said: “That’s what we are searching for with Hatem, a little bit more consistency in terms of him winning games, whether it’s an assist or a goal.
“He has fantastic quality. He is a player the fans love and he certainly got everybody out of their seats the last time.
“But we need a little bit more than that, more from him, more of those moments. I think he would be the first to admit that that’s the year he needs if he is going to break into the French team.”
Ben Arfa first arrived on Tyneside during the summer of 2010 when then manager Chris Hughton signed him on a season-long loan deal.
Despite suffering an horrendous double leg fracture in just his fourth appearance for the club, he completed a permanent transfer in the following January, by which time Pardew was at the helm.
He eventually made his first appearance under the new manager in a Carling Cup.
Written by George Coomber