Tuesday 27 March 2012
Newcastle United striker Papiss Cisse has praised team-mate Hatem Ben Arfa, saying the Frenchman's skills are comparable to Barcelona star Lionel Messi.
Ben Arfa scored once and also set up both of Cisse's goals in Sunday's 3-1 Barclays Premier League win at West Bromwich Albion.
The win kept the Magpies' hopes of Champions League qualification alive and Cisse said Ben Arfa's talents should help him secure a berth for France at this summer's European Championship finals.
"Ben Arfa is a great player"
- Papiss Cisse
"Sometimes with the ball at his feet, he is like Lionel Messi," said Senegalese striker Cisse.
"The ball really sticks to his feet. I really like that kind of player.
"He has a great range of skills. He is the kind of player who can make the difference and that is really good for us. He is really good to play with.
"Ben Arfa is a great player. On Sunday he played his match and that is why we went home with three points."
Ben Arfa has made eight appearances for France, but his last international appearance for Laurent Blanc's side was against Norway in a friendly in August 2010.
The winger scored with a superb drive after coming off the bench - but was unable to prevent France slipping to a 2-1 defeat.
Cisse said: "I am certain Hatem is capable of going to the Euros because he is really talented and he is showing it every weekend.
"He did it at Arsenal [scoring in Newcastle's 2-1 defeat] and again on Sunday. Now he has shown he is great player. If I were in the coach’s place, I would take him."
France's first match in Euro 2012 is against England in Donetsk on 11th June.
Cisse, meanwhile, has not given up hope of Newcastle claiming a top-four finish in the Barclays Premier League.
"Right now we are on the right path to do that. We have to continue like this, keep picking up victories," he said.
"We have got Liverpool at home at the weekend. It won't be an easy match but we are going to do everything we can to win it."