Hull City have confirmed that after only four months Hatem Ben Arfa's season-long loan from Newcastle will be cancelled in January, with the attacking midfielder additionally being told by Newcastle manager Alan Pardew he doesn't have a future at the club. So where does it leave the Frenchman's career in English football?
Aston Villa need a consistent 'number 10' and Hatem Ben Arfa is exactly what could be the difference between relegation and staying up for another season at least.
The former Lyon and Marseille player has the potential to be in the same elite group as Angel Di Maria, Juan Mata and Oscar, if he creates more headlines on the field rather than off it.
Training ground confrontations, missing practise sessions and going awol have blighted a career that has included several goal of the season contenders. Against Bolton Wanderers in the 2011-12 season the unorthodox winger ran from his own half passing four defenders before clinically scoring (described by The Independent as “a moment of genius”) alongside a long-range effort against Aston Villa during the 2012-13 campaign.
He was Newcastle's best player, both domestically and in Europe, during the 2012-13 season scoring four goals and creating three assists before picking up a long-term hamstring injury. He again impressed the following season with a string of match-winning performances before falling out of favour with manager Alan Pardew.
After moving to Hull in August, one of the bargains of transfer deadline day despite criticism over his weight, he only played eight times failing to score or create any assists. He returned to France without reported permission last week promoting the club to cancel his season-long loan after only four months.
Ben Arfa missed training and travelled back to his native France to be part of a documentary by film-maker Bruno Sevaistre. It isn't the first time the free-spirited winger has been in the spotlight after filming a documentary series entitled 'A la Clairefontaine', directed again by Sevaistre, between 1999–2002. He starred alongside Arsenal midfielder Abou Diaby and other young players.
His attitude is a concern for any potential suitors, hopefully including Aston Villa, but under the right manager and within a team struggling to create chances and goals he can be a world-class player.
Charles N'Zogbia was earmarked as Milner's replacement when he signed from Wigan in 2011, but that never materialised. A freak injury that ruled him out of the entirety of last season as well as becoming a member of the infamous Aston Villa 'bomb squad' haven't helped, but in truth his performances have never been consistent enough.
Joe Cole rejected lucrative offers from across aboard to stay in the Premier League. But apart from a glimpse of his days at Chelsea and Liverpool for 70 minutes against Burnley last month, where he scored and looked confident on the ball, he is now back on the Villa Park treatment table for the same hamstring injury he suffered during pre-season.
Andi Weimann has played in the 'number 10' role (top of a midfield diamond) on several occasions, including against Liverpool at Anfield in the controversial 2-2 last season, so an option Paul Lambert could and should explore.