Karim Benzema raised eyebrows back in November when he said that, in his opinion, Hatem Ben Arfa possessed the same level of talent as Lionel Messi.
While it would be easy to automatically dismiss this comment as nonsense, there’s no denying that, like Messi, Ben Arfa is an incredibly gifted footballer.
Sadly, though, Ben Arfa has failed to make the most of his talent unlike Barcelona’s legendary No. 10.
The French winger, who was born in the same year as Messi and celebrated his 31st birthday today, has only managed to show glimpses of his extraordinary talent since bursting onto the scene in 2004.
A product of France’s revered Clairefontaine youth academy, where he learned his trade alongside Benzema, big things were expected of Ben Arfa, who spent four years with Lyon before joining Marseille in 2008.
He then moved to Newcastle United where, on the odd occasion, he was truly outstanding. He lit up St. James’ Park with his mazy runs and solo goals, and fans still remember him fondly.
Ben Arfa then had a brief spell on loan at Hull City before moving permanently to Nice, where he resurrected his career, scoring 18 goals in 37 appearances during the 2015-16 campaign.
This led to a move to Paris Saint-Germain, which Ben Arfa described as a “childhood dream” after putting pen to paper on a two-year deal.
However, the dream soon turned into a nightmare.
Just weeks into his PSG career, Ben Arfa had failed to impress Unai Emery with his poor work ethic during matches and training.
"You're not Messi,” Emery is understood to have shouted at Ben Arfa, according to the Mirror. "If you were, I wouldn't say anything to you at all... You're not capable of winning a game all by yourself."
Ben Arfa found himself in and out of PSG’s starting line-up for the remainder of the season and finished the campaign without a single league goal to his name.
Emery made it abundantly clear to Ben Arfa last summer, following the arrival of Neymar from Barcelona for a world record fee, that he was now surplus to requirements at PSG.
The France international, however, refused to leave his employers, who would be forced to hand the winger €6 million if they terminated his contract early.
PSG refused and decided to make him train with the club’s reserve side back in September.
Since then, Ben Arfa has failed to make a single appearance for the Parisians. His last competitive appearance in football came at the end of last season.
He was linked with a move to several clubs in January, including Leicester City, but a transfer failed to materialise and he remains in football’s wilderness.
Now some reports suggest he is suffering from depression and is in a poor state of mind.
Perhaps he should have moved on and played football, rather than sitting in the wilderness picking up his big cheques.
But, if he is unhappy ... he is rich with it ... so I wouldn't worry about him too much.