James Perch says Hatem Ben Arfa is the best player he played with ‘by a mile’ when reflecting on his time on Tyneside – although he admits his ‘laziness’ and ‘mental ability’ held him back.
The 33-year-old – who now plays in League One with Scunthorpe – says players used to hope they weren’t up against the Frenchman in training, revealing how he would ’embarrass you’ with his silky dribbling skills.
Here’s what the former Newcastle defender had to say when asked who was the best player he played with during his time on Tyneside:
“Ben Arfa by a mile.
“I think everyone knows the talent he’s got, if he just had the mental ability of a top player, like Sergio Aguero, I think he would have been held at that elite level.
“He was magic; in training you were hoping you were on his side so he didn’t embarrass you, but he was fantastic.
“He didn’t always do it in training because of that laziness about him but on a Saturday; but, if he was on it, he could win you the game.”
It’s interesting to hear Perch talk about his ‘laziness’ on the training field – something that’s no doubt held him back and left him out of favour come matchdays under certain managers.
One of the most talented players we’ve seen at St James’ Park, but a player I’ll always look back on and wonder just what could have been if he really did apply himself.
Just look at this goal he scored in France over the weekend: