It wasn't too long ago, April 2012 actually, that Alan Pardew likened Newcastle's midfield magician, Hatem Ben Arfa, to Lionel Messi. And now, in line with quotes from a recent interview with Sky Sports, he's now targeting to beat Lionel Messi one day to the Ballon d'Or.
The Ballon d’Or, given annually to the player who is considered to have performed the best in the previous year, is the most sought-after award in world football, and Hatem has revealed he still thinks there’s a possibility of him winning it.
Hatem hasn’t always been popular at his respective clubs before Newcastle (Lyon and Marseille), having had bust-ups with the likes of Djibril Cissé and former Marseille coach, Didier Deschamps. Therefore, he’d have to find forgiveness from a few of his former colleagues; the award is based on votes by coaches and captains of international teams, as well as journalists from around the world.
Here’s what he had to say about his aspirations:
“I know some will still take me for a fool, but I still dream for example of the Ballon d’Or,” he told France Football. “I am convinced that this is still possible.
“It is forbidden to dream?
“I disappointed a lot of people over the past years, I even annoyed a lot too, no doubt, but these people were right. I was not very professional.
“I think I gradually changed as I grew up.”
Though the odds are most definitely against Hatem to win this award, it’s great to see the ambition he’s showing. At times last season, the team could be accused of lacking the passion to succeed and to turn around our marred fortunes, so it’s refreshing to see a bit of hunger from a Newcastle player.
Another positive is that Hatem is showing a bit of maturity in recognizing his faults; this hasn’t really been seen before. I very much hope he can continue to impress and transpose a newfound mayturity to his style of play.