Ben Arfa broke into the first-team at Olympique Lyonnais alongside Karim Benzema as one of Europe’s most promising players – a true wonderkid who was set to have the brightest of futures.
There is little doubt that Hatem Ben Arfa has had one of the strangest career trajectories of modern times.
He won four league titles in his four seasons with Lyon but the big move afterwards didn’t come; while Benzema joined Real Madrid in 2009, Ben Arfa had already left Lyon for Marseille.
Yes, the then-reigning French Young Player of the Year had left his team to join their greatest rivals after falling out with Lyon.
More trophies followed but Ben Arfa eventually left France for Newcastle United – not exactly the huge move his talent had once seemed destined for.
Things originally went very well in England, only for more disciplinary issues to set the player back further and, after a loan spell at Hull City, it was back to France for Ben Arfa – this time to Nice.
But then, in the crazy world of Ben Arfa, he would show such ability at Nice – scoring 17 times in 34 league games – that the team that had since become the largest in the country, Paris Saint-Germain, wanted his signature.
And from that high, we’re now here: Ben Arfa hasn’t played a competitive game of football in exactly one year.
It’s yet another fall from grace for a player who seems to have a knack for them – not that he’s letting it get him down too much.
The 31-year-old took to Instagram to ‘celebrate’ the occasion, complete with a cake and a candle.
“Happy Anniversary to me”, he says. “One year in the closet is worth celebrating.”
It’s unlikely to be how he wanted his PSG career to go – last season saw him play 23 Ligue 1 games but fail to score – and he has already announced that he’ll leave in the summer.
But this is Ben Arfa we’re talking about, a player who has repeatedly proven that he can look down and out and yet somehow make it back to the top.
Who’s to say this is his last chance at the big time? Judging by his Instagram post, he certainly isn’t.