NEWCASTLE star Papiss Cisse believes even the great Lionel Messi would have been proud to have scored Hatem Ben Arfa’s sensational goal of the season.
The Senegalese striker, who got his side’s second in their vital 2-0 victory over Bolton on Monday, for once had the spotlight taken off him by the French playmaker’s mazy 70-yard run that saw him dribble past three opponents before scoring a spectacular opener. For Cisse to compare 25-year-old Ben Arfa’s moment of inspiration, which sent St James’ Park into raptures, with the undisputed best player in the world is perhaps the highest compliment that could be paid to any footballer in this era of the brilliant Argentine.
And while United’s goalscoring machine didn’t go as far as to suggest his team-mate is at the same level of the Barcelona superstar, who scored his 60th goal of the season last weekend, he was adamant the effort was Messi-like in its execution.
Even someone with a poor grasp of holiday French could work out what Cisse thought when he declared “c’est magnifique” when asked, through a translator, to describe it.
“It was a fantastic goal. I can’t say that he is Lionel Messi yet as a player, but it was an incredible goal and would be worthy of Messi himself,” said Cisse.
“Maybe, even he could not have scored that. It was such a memorable goal.
“I have certainly never scored one like that. Ever. I score more what you would call strikers’ goals.”
Shola Ameobi joined in with the praise being heaped on Ben Arfa, who he revealed impresses his team-mates on a daily basis.
He said: “Any club in the Premier League would love to see him do that for their team. He’s such a talent. It’s such a nice thing to have in your arsenal. For somebody to be able to do that, to run past players as if they weren’t there and finish like that, is a joy to behold.
“It’s great for us because we see that every day.
“When he does stuff like that it’s a piece of magic that nobody else on that pitch could do.”
Cisse, as always, played his part yet again in a Newcastle win with one of those “striker’s goals” that just happened to be his tenth in nine matches.
He converted at the back post to seal the three points to put the Magpies level with fourth-placed Tottenham Hotspur who enjoy a better goal-difference. There are many reasons for the success of this season under Alan Pardew, but the manager’s decision to pay out £10million for Cisse in January from SC Freiburg is a massive factor.
The striker can’t explain himself why he has adapted so quickly and so well to his still new environment, but refuses to accept that it all down to him.
Instead, he modesty highlighted the form of the men behind him, which he said provided a bedrock that helped he and his fellow frontmen to do their stuff at the other end of the pitch.
Cisse said: “My scoring record? It is fabulous. It is magnificent.
“It’s all down to my team-mates and I think you have to look at the defence as well, as we have only conceded once in five games. It is down to them, because they are giving me the chances to score.”
With things going so well, a free weekend is maybe the last thing Pardew would want.
But Newcastle have got some time off because of the FA Cup semi-finals over Saturday and Sunday.
Cisse said: “It won’t be a problem not to play this weekend, although it is slightly annoying.
“We have had some hard games in recent weeks, so it will be good to recuperate and recover, so we can keep out momentum going after our break.”