Newcastle manager Alan Pardew has lavished praise upon Hatem Ben Arfa, heralding the Frenchman as the Magpies' answer to Luis Suarez and stating his belief that the midfielder can become one of the "best players in the world".
Ben Arfa made his return from a torn hamstring on Thursday as he featured in the 0-0 draw against Anzhi Makhachkala, his first appearance since December.
Pardew is hopeful that the former Marseille man can feature in Sunday's clash with Stoke and was eager to extol the midfielder's virtues as he lauded his ability to create something out of nothing.
"He's a massive player at this level. For us, he's our Suarez," Pardew told the club's official website. "He's that different player, someone who in a tight game can create something out of nothing, and it would be great if we could have him available tomorrow for the last 30 minutes
"He can play anywhere in an offensive situation. I wouldn't want to play him at center half but everywhere else, he can play. He's a fantastic player - tremendous technique and a great mentality to be one of the best players in the world."
However, Ben Arfa's fitness remains a concern ahead of Newcastle's clash with the Potters, though Pardew remains hopeful he can feature, particularly given his performance in their 3-1 win over Stoke last season.
"We've got a little worry about Hatem, whether we can introduce him into this game. He's a little bit stiff today still," he continued.
"He was a real problem for Stoke last year and hopefully he'll be available to me. We'll have to wait and see tomorrow."
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- Ben Arfa
- Anzhi Makhachkala