It wasn’t all that long ago that a serious double leg fracture ended a player’s career in football.
Hatem Ben Arfa – in training at Newcastle earlier this year
That’s what has happened to Newcastle’s Ben Arfa last season, and the club took a calculated gamble in January when they took up the option to buy him for around £5M from French club Marseilles, while he was still recovering from the serious injury he picked up at Manchester City last October.
And Ben Arfa was unable to return to the Newcatsle first team this season, despite some optimistic forecasts last January, and the 24 year old is now back again in Clairefontaine, just south of Paris, trying to get ready for Newcastle’s pre-season.
Alan Pardew talked about Ben Arfa today:
“He’s back at Clairefontaine, it looks like he’s got a busy summer ahead of him. We can only hope he’s going to come back the same player. It’s a tough injury he had, so we can only wait.”
There were even complications following the Frenchman’s initial surgery in October, and another operation was necessary last November.
Those complications would have prevented his shin bones from healing properly – and brought his career to a premature end but Paris St Germain club doctor Eric Rolland successfully operated on the play-maker at the French capital’s Pitie Salpetriere hospital in November.
Ben Arfa’s advisor, Simon Stainrod, has said he is getting close to playing again, and for the record it’s now around seven and a half months since he sustained the injury from a poor and rather reckless challenge from Dutchman Nigel De Jong.
De Jong seemed huffed when he was subsequently dropped from the next Netherlands senior squad, specifically because of that tackle, and he didn’t even receive a yellow card for it, from referee Martin Atkinson.
This is what Stainrod said today:
“To be honest a lot of that speculation in the first place was to keep his spirits up because of the nature of the injury,”
“But it serves no purpose now to start speculating on when he’s going to back. He has had a very serious injury and it is just a case of letting nature take its course.”
“He’s not a million miles away and he’s making great progress, but he will be back when he’s back.”
“It is maybe six weeks until pre-season and Hatem is kicking balls around already. He’s in good condition.”
Newcastle fans will be hooping he will be back in pre-season, and that he can make the American tour in July.
It’s a calculated risk that Newcastle took with Ben Arfa, but we think a worthwhile one, and certainly he seems to have received world class treatment in France.
We should know after a few games whether he’s still the same magical player he looked in his four appearances for Newcastle this season, when he scored that terrific match-winning goal at Everton.
We certainly hope so.