Vieira backs King Arfa to rule England at Euros
Published 22:30 11/04/12 By MirrorFootball
Patrick Vieira insists France should let Hatem Ben Arfa loose on England this summer.
Arsenal and Les Bleus legend Vieira has joined the Newcastle midfielder’s growing list of admirers after watching his scintillating form push Alan Pardew’s men towards the Champions League.
And after seeing Ben Arfa’s wonder goal in the win over Bolton, he insists the sublimely talented 25-year-old should be handed a chance to end the campaign on a high with a return to the France squad for the European Championship finals in Poland and Ukraine.
The Tunisian-born star last played for France in August, 2010, and hasn’t added to his eight caps since suffering a career-threatening broken leg at the outset of his Toon career 18 months ago.
Former Liverpool boss Gerard Houllier is a big fan of the ex-Marseille star, and now Vieira has added his weight to the campaign to ensure the 25-year-old enjoys a spot of overtime this summer.
The 35-year-old Manchester City football development executive, a World Cup and European Championship-winner in a titanic 12-year career with his country spanning 107 caps, insisted: “Ben Arfa deserves to go to the European Championship.
“He has very strong claims to go, and you’ve got to say well done to him for coming back to his best after his injuries.”
France tackle England in their opening group game on June 11, and as a patriotic Englishman, Pardew would be happy if his man-of-the-moment midfielder doesn’t join Toon team-mate Yohan Cabaye in lining-up against the Three Lions in Donetsk.
But after Ben Arfa’s outstanding length-of-the-pitch goal in the 2-0 win over Owen Coyle’s won worldwide acclaim, the Toon boss reckons France chief Laurent Blanc would be missing a trick not to include the Geordies’ prized possession - picked up for a bargain £5m in 2010 - in his plans.
Blanc names his squad next month, ahead of home warm-up friendlies with Iceland, Serbia and Estonia, before crossing swords with England in a little over eight weeks’ time.
Ben Arfa will have to find a way past the likes of Chelsea’s Florent Malouda, and City’s Samir Nasri, but Pardew added: “Hatem’s right up there with any player I’ve ever worked with.
“He should definitely have a chance with the French squad. There’s not many players can do the things he does, his work-rate is phenomenal and I’m sure the French manager understands that.
“It’s the technical ability that allows him to carry the ball at full speed and manoeuvre it at full pace. He can go that quickly but still put the ball exactly where he wants it. It’s only the great dribblers that can do that.
“When I first arrived here, Gerard Houllier said he was a precocious talent, one of their special players. That didn’t get lost on me. He’s had a terrible injury and has had to work really hard. People expect him to be special and he’s beginning to produce it."