Ben Arfa joins French champion Lille on 6-month loan deal
LILLE, France (AP) — Former France international Hatem Ben Arfa extended his much-traveled career by signing a six-month deal with French league champion Lille on Wednesday.
At 34, Ben Arfa will be playing for a 10th different club after stints at Lyon, Newcastle, Hull, Marseille, Nice, Paris Saint-Germain, Rennes and Valladolid. He was out of contract and joined on a free transfer after leaving Bordeaux in May.
Ben Arfa has a deep knowledge of the French league, where he scored 42 goals and delivered 25 assists in 234 matches, and his experience will also be an interesting asset in the Champions League. Lille will be up against defending champion Chelsea next month in the round of 16.
“I’m happy to join a club which keeps on improving,” Ben Arfa said. “I know that many greats have played here. It is an honor for me to be able to take up this challenge, with the desire, above all, to help the group and the club achieve their goals. I feel very good and I am very eager to get back to competition.”
Ben Arfa will replace Tukey midfielder Yusuf Yacizi, who signed a six-month loan deal with CSKA Moscow.
Once regarded as France’s most gifted player, Ben Arfa did not live up to the huge expectations he raised with his exceptional pace and dribbling abilities when he played with Lyon, the club where he was nurtured.
A member of “Generation 87,” a group of promising players born in 1987 that included Karim Benzema and Samir Nasri, Ben Arfa struggled after he left Lyon in 2008.
Following two seasons in Marseille, he joined Newcastle, where a hard tackle from Manchester City midfielder Nigel De Jong left him with a leg broken in two places. He was sidelined for almost a year.
After bouncing back with Nice, Ben Arfa signed with PSG in 2016 but the experience quickly turned sour. Ben Arfa was sidelined during his final year in Paris because of disputes with club officials.
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