The Frenchman has had a negative reputation in his home country since he came to public attention as a youngster in a TV documentary about his time at France's elite training centre in Clairefontaine.
The 25-year-old believes that his poor attitude is the reason he has not yet fulfilled his potential.
"I regret not being mature earlier, because I think that today I would be playing at a higher level," Ben Arfa told Surface magazine.
"Perhaps I would be like [Messi] today. But I've still got time, I can catch him up.
"In my head, I've still got the 2014 World Cup. For me, it's impossible I don't play in it. The current generation has a lot of talented players. But I think they lack leaders."
Ben Arfa has been on the sidelines since the middle of December because of a hamstring injury.