Hatem Ben Arfa is Alan Pardew’s best signing for Newcastle United

GEM OF A PLAYER: Hatem Ben Arfa
GEM OF A PLAYER: Hatem Ben Arfa

HATEM Ben Arfa was Alan Pardew’s first signing at Newcastle United – and the boss doubts he’ll make a better one

Pardew made Ben Arfa’s loan move permanent a month after succeeding Chris Hughton at St James’s Park.

The 26-year-old – who has scored in Newcastle’s last two games – was recovering from a double leg break at the time.

But Pardew didn’t feel it was a gamble signing him, despite having not seen him play or train for United.

“He was my first signing here,” Pardew said. “I watched the video at Everton when he scored that goal, and said to Mike (Ashley) ‘sign him’.

“That was my gut feeling about him. To get a player like that for the value we were getting him for was a no-brainer.

“The only downside to that has been the games that he’s missed.

“I really like working with him. He’s interesting, and I like interesting people.

“He’s different to Joey Barton, and has different sorts of problems, but he’s up there.”

Ben Arfa’s career at Newcastle has been blighted by a series of injuries, most recently the hamstring problem which saw him miss much of last season.

“He didn’t accept (last season’s hamstring injury) in his head,” said Pardew. “It was a lot worse than I thought he realised at the time.

“We sensed it, and tried to work with it, but he didn’t quite grasp that. It’s just the way he is – he’s a maverick person.

“He’s over it now, thank goodness. He’s on fire at the moment. He’s ghosting past people for fun, and that’s what our fans love more than anything.

“They love somebody who’ll get them off their seats. He does that.”