7th March – Hatem Ben Arfa

Hatem Ben Arfa will go down as one of the greatest players to never reach his full potential in England, being the most exciting player on the pitch to the most frustrating in a matter of seconds.

Despite only being 28 there have been some suggestions that he is contemplating retiring from the game after a terrible season that will see him end it as a free agent due to a FIFA ruling. The winger would be a great addition to any side if he could play to the best of his abilities and it is probably why he will be a wanted man in the summer.

Ben Arfa started his career at Lyon, signing his first professional contract in 2004 and made his debut on the opening day of the season against Nice. After more substitute appearance he would score his first goal on the 10th November against Lille. But he wouldn’t really become a regular until the 2007-08 season. He performed very well throughout the season and was named the National Union of Professional Footballers Young Player of the Year. It seemed like he would be an important member of the side for a long time to come after signing a contract extension in March 2008 but a training ground scuffle with Sebastien Squillaci meant his time at the club was up.

HBA Lyon

After a long transfer saga Ben Arfa eventually joined Marseille on the 1st July but it wasn’t long before he was in another bust up as on the 16th July he was involved in one with Djibril Cisse. On his debut however he showed his qualities by scoring against Rennes and in his first 11 matches he hit the back of the net six times. More controversy followed as he was involved in disputes with Modeste M’Bami and manager Eric Gerets. His performances when he was on the pitch were usually of the highest quality but trouble was never far away as in the next season he was fined for missing training and got in yet another argument with new manager Didier Deschamps. He would play 29 times for the club as they won the Ligue 1 title but this was not enough for him to stay at the club.

HBA Marseille

On the 27th August 2010 Ben Arfa joined Newcastle United on a season long loan after many weeks of trouble. But it seemed like it was worth it as on his full debut he scored a brilliant goal against Everton but on the 3rd October his season was over after he suffered a broken tibia and fibula. Despite this the two clubs agreed a permanent transfer. He would have to wait until the 24th September 2011 to make his Premier League return in a 3-1 win over Blackburn Rovers. In the second half of the season he scored two individual goals, firstly in the FA Cup against Blackburn and against Bolton Wanderers. During this time he was an important part of the team and combined brilliantly with Demba Ba and Papiss Cisse.

HBA NU

The next season also started very well as he scored on the opening day against Tottenham Hotspur and then two weeks later hit a great equaliser against Aston Villa. Injuries disrupted the second half of the season but he scored in the win over QPR to guarantee the club’s safety. Once again the 2013-14 season started well for him as he scored against Fulham and was also in great form against Aston Villa, scoring and making an assist. Unfortunately he didn’t perform for the rest of the season. On the 2nd September 2014 he joined Hull City on loan but this only last nine games and manager Steve Bruce admitted at one point he didn’t even know where he was. On the 4th January he was released by Newcastle and signed for Nice the next day. But FIFA ruled that he could not play for them and his contract was terminated.

The final word can go to former teammate Yohan Cabaye. “For me, he remains an extraordinary player with enormous quality. It is true that it was harder for him late in the season. He is going to bounce back. For me, this is one of the players I’ve played with who has the highest quality.”

Advertisements

3rd June – Papiss Cisse

The Newcastle United number 9 shirt is one of the most famous in English football and Papiss Cisse really lived up to its reputation when he first joined the club.

In his first half a season in England the striker, who turns 29 today, scored 13 times in just 14 games and scored one of the best goals ever seen in the Premier League in a game against Chelsea. He hasn’t quite been able to live up to his early potential but he will be hoping that when he comes back from an injury that ruled him out of the end of last season he can once again hit the back of the net on a regular basis as he has done for the majority of his career.

Cisse started his career at Senegalese club Douanes Dakar where he scored 23 times in 26 games and was very highly rated. In the summer of 2005 he transferred to French club Metz but was not ready for first team action there so he signed for Cherbourg and played well scoring 11 times in 26 games which meant Metz started to use him and he helped them to promotion from Ligue 2 in 2006-07 season scoring 12 times. However he did not perform well in the top French league and was once again sent out on loan to Chateauroux before returning to his parent club where he scored another 24 goals in two seasons.
Cisse Metz
On the 28th December 2009 he joined Freiburg in the Bundesliga and started well by scoring six times in his first 16 games. In his first full season he finished as the second top scorer in the league with 22 goals and in the summer there were rumours he was going to leave. He stayed at the club for another half a season and continued his great goalscoring record by getting another 9 goals in just 17 games.
Cisse Freiburg
He joined Newcastle United in January 2012 and started his incredible spell by scoring on his debut against Aston Villa after coming on as a substitute. He followed this up with a goal in his first home start against Wolves. His form then got even better as he scored twice against West Brom, Liverpool and Swansea City in consecutive matches, bringing his tally to nine goals in eight games. He finished the season scoring past Bolton Wanderers, Stoke City and a double against Chelsea.

However, the next season started slowly for the striker and he had to wait until the 28th October to get his first Premier League goal of the season and it was a fortunate one as it just hit his back from a Sammy Ameobi strike. During this season he became known for his late goals, as he scored injury time winners against Stoke City, Anzhi Makhachakala and Fulham. Cisse scored the same amount of goals in all competitions as he did in the previous season despite playing 33 more games.
Cisse Newcastle
The 2013-14 season was even tougher as he only scored two Premier League goals all season, one from the penalty spot against Stoke City in a 5-1 win and a last minute winner against Crystal Palace.

The final word can go to Alan Shearer who commented on his great start and he and all Newcastle fans will be hoping he can get back to this form. “I don’t think you can be anything but very impressed. The guy has just gone in and blown everyone away with his performances and goals. As a striker you are judged on goals, but even if you take his goals away his movement and hold up play have been excellent.”

25th May – Demba Ba

Demba Ba became an unlikely hero for Chelsea towards the end of last season scoring important goals against PSG, Liverpool and Swansea.

His form towards the end of the season just made a lot of people wonder why Jose Mourinho hadn’t put him in the starting eleven a lot sooner. He has proven himself as a great goalscorer his whole career so it was strange to see him left out so often when Fernando Torres and Samuel Eto’o were not on form. But Ba is a player that bounces back after being left out and deemed not good enough as he proved early in his career when he first tried to join an English club. He was turned down by Watford, Barnsley, Swansea City and Gillingham before signing a one year deal with French club Rouen.

Ba was very successful at the club and in his one season he scored 22 goals in just 26 games before moving onto Belgian club Mouscron where he continued his good form and scored in his first three games. However Ba fractured his tibia and fibula and was ruled out for a long time but after eight months he eventually recovered and carried on where he left off by scoring another seven times in the next nine games.
Ba Hoff
In 2007 he moved onto Germany and signed for Hoffenheim, who were playing in the second tier at the time but his 12 league goals secured promotion to the Bundesliga in his first year. Both Ba and his club had a successful year after promotion the striker scored 14 times. Injuries once again began to catch up with him and he played fewer games over the next two seasons. But in his last half a season he scored 9 times in just 20 games before a dispute with the club meant he was wanting to leave.

They agreed a fee with Stoke City but unfortunately Ba failed a medical and Stoke pulled out of the deal. West Ham quickly signed him up and he did everything he could to keep them in the Premier League. He scored seven times in 12 games but a clause in his contract meant that when West Ham were relegated he could leave on a free transfer.

He signed for Newcastle United and proved once again that he was a great goalscorer and scored two hatricks in the first 11 games of the season with one of those coming against Stoke. Before leaving for the Africa Cup of Nations he was second top scorer in the Premier League with 15 goals and on his return from international duty he scored against Aston Villa. However, this proved to be his last goal of the season as he was moved out to the left wing to accommodate Papiss Cisse who ended up with 12 goals in just half a season.
Ba Newcastle
Ba was back on goalscoring form at the start of the new season by scoring a stunning volley against Tottenham Hotspur to win the game. By the time January came he around he was on 13 goals in 20 games but it was revealed he had a clause in his contract that allowed him to leave for just £7 million. Chelsea took advantage and on his debut for the club he scored twice in the FA Cup against Southampton and then scored on his home league debut against the same opposition. Ba only scored one more Premier League goal but did score a great goal against Manchester United in the FA Cup.
Soccer - Barclays Premier League - Chelsea v Blackburn Rovers - Stamford Bridge
In the season just finished he didn’t get enough of a chance to make an impact but still managed eight goals in all competitions. He definitely did pop up with some important goals though and the Chelsea fans have not seen the best of him.

The final word can go to Alan Pardew. “Demba Ba has done very well since he came to England, and he’s a good player. He has pace, excellent technical ability, is good in the air and, it goes without saying, has the ability to consistently find the back of the net.”