Cisse says Newcastle team-mate Arfa is a phenomenon

Newcastle's Hatem Ben Arfa
Newcastle's Hatem Ben Arfa

HATEM Ben Arfa is a phenomenon – and deserves to go to Euro 2012.

That’s the verdict of his Newcastle United team-mate Papiss Demba Cisse.

Ben Arfa and Cisse formed two thirds of a potent three-man attack with Demba Ba at St James’s Park in the latter part of last season.

And Ben Arfa’s Premier League form for his club earned him a recall to the France squad after an absence of almost two years.

The 25-year-old is set for his first appearance for Les Bleus since August 2010 tomorrow night when Laurent Blanc’s side continue their Euro 2012 preparations against Iceland in Valenciennes.

Ben Arfa is in Blanc’s preliminary 26-man squad for the tournament, which will see France take on England on June 11, but this must be whittled down to 23 players by Tuesday.

And the pressure is on Ben Arfa to nail down a place against Iceland.

Cisse has no doubt his talented team-mate – who scored six goals last term, including stunning efforts against Blackburn Rovers and Bolton Wanderers – should make the squad for Euro 2012.

“Hatem’s a phenomenon,” Cisse told SportMail.

“I don’t know why he hasn’t played for France up to now – that’s down to the coach.

“But for me, he’s a dynamic player for Newcastle, and he should play for Les Bleus.”

Ben Arfa was quickly labelled a footballing prodigy as a teenager in France, and there was huge weight of expectation on his shoulders in the early part of his career, spent at Lyon.

However, he also made a name for himself off the field, having been involved in a series of off-the-pitch incidents.

Ben Arfa, signed by United from Marseille the season before last, has credited Newcastle will helping him become a “calmer” and more mature person.

And Ben Arfa – who overcame the career-threatening broken leg he suffered in October 2010 to return to his best in the latter part of last season – is a jovial character in United’s tight-knit dressing room, according to Cisse, himself on international duty with Senegal.

“He’s always joking around,” added Cisse.

“Every time something happens, he’s joking.”

Ben Arfa is joined in the France squad by club-mate Yohan Cabaye, who is certain to make the final cut.