'Is it forbidden to dream?': Newcastle midfielder Hatem Ben Arfa retains hopes of winning the Ballon d'Or

Lionel Messi has won the award for the last four years

Hatem Ben Arfa believes he is maturing as a player and still holds out hope he can win the Ballon d'Or.

The 26-year-old has been in fine form for Newcastle this season and scored in the win at Aston Villa on Saturday.

The Frenchman's career has been stop-start so far with him making just 13 international appearances since first being selected for his country in 2007.

But the forward is confident he has put any questions over his attitude to bed and is convinced he can now go on to realise his potential and sit alongside the likes of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.

"I know some will still take me for a fool, but I still dream for example of the Ballon d'Or," he told France Football. "I am convinced that this is still possible.

"It is forbidden to dream?"

He added: "I disappointed a lot of people over the past years, I even annoyed a lot too, no doubt, but these people were right. I was not very professional.

"I think I gradually changed as I grew up."

PA

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