Hatem Ben Arfa: 'I could have been like Lionel Messi'

Ben Arfa: 'I could have matched Messi'
© PA Photos
Newcastle United's Hatem Ben Arfa believes that he could have been as good as Lionel Messi if he had focused more throughout his career.

Newcastle United midfielder Hatem Ben Arfa believes that he could have reached the heights of Barcelona star Lionel Messi if he had been more focused in the early stages of his career.

The 25-year-old built up a negative reputation when he was at the centre of disputes at his first club Lyon, and later Marseille, before moving to St James' Park.

"I regret not being mature earlier because I think today I'd have evolved to a higher level," Ben Arfa told le 10 Sport. "Maybe I'd be like Lionel Messi today. But I still have time, I can catch up."

Ben Arfa signed for the Magpies in 2011 following a loan stint at the club.

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