2018 MLS expansion team Los Angeles Football Club will begin stocking their inaugural roster in earnest in a matter of weeks, and of course transfer rumors are picking up some speed.
The latest one comes from New York-based reporter Kristian Dyer, who connected LAFC to French international Hatem Ben Arfa.
“Ben Arfa is a player I hear potentially moving from PSG, could be a landing spot, I would think, LAFC or Orlando City.”
That sounds pretty shaky, frankly.
The context is this: Ben Arfa currently plays at Paris Saint-Germain, but “plays” is not quite accurate because he’s been frozen out of the squad by head coach Unai Emery, a process that effectively began incrementally last season almost as soon as he signed for the team. At the time, signing for PSG from Nice, where the French international had enjoyed arguably his best spell in his career, was seen as a terrible idea, and so it proved to be.
Ben Arfa is 30, is on the third long stretch of his career without playing soccer (one was for breaking his leg while with Newcastle, the other was when he was frozen out/skipped town while on loan with Hull City), so if you want to spin it positively, he has preserved his legs nicely over the years. But he’s had a load of disciplinary issues, ending things with previous clubs on bad terms, and saying dumb things. On the other hand, when he’s focused and playing well, his playmaker skills are outstanding, and so the lure of having a No. 10 who can truly work the attack is strong.
So do I think there’s anything to this rumor? Probably not. Ben Arfa doesn’t have household name recognition in the U.S., and realistically if the best case scenario happened and he played extremely well in MLS with no conduct issues, chances are he’d take off for a European team right away anyway. And he’d probably want like $7 million/year.
So I’m going to say that while Ben Arfa will likely be on the move in January, I’d be surprised if LAFC actually pursue him. Is it possible? Of course, anything’s possible — Tom Penn has literally said that in the past regarding transfer targets. But I think this rumor, as it stands, is tenuous at best and so I don’t expect it to happen. We’ll see.
What do you think? Leave a comment below!