Hatem Ben Arfa made a dream Rennes debut on Thursday evening, scoring a stoppage-time winner, and on Sunday he could face former club Paris Saint-Germain with a point to prove.
Ben Arfa scored from the penalty spot against Jablonec in the Europa League in midweek off the bench and the exciting French international might make his first start against PSG, the club he left this summer after two frustrating years.
Lamouchi: "He'll give us more evenings like that"
After Jablonec, Rennes coach Sabri Lamouchi said: "I have rarely seen such acclaim for a player coming on. I didn't expect him to come on and win the game, that he'd take the responsibility from the penalty spot. We know that something can happen anytime he touches the ball. If Hatem does the same against Paris on Sunday then I'll buy a drink for everybody. We know he'll need some time to get up to the pace of things, but he'll give us more evenings like that."
Ben Arfa was introduced to his new club Rennes earlier this month, but the 31-year-old is already well known to followers of French football. The skilful playmaker broke in to the Lyon first team aged 17, before going on to win silverware with Marseille, and then returning to Ligue 1 with Nice in 2015.
Ben Arfa dazzled during his season on the Côte d'Azur scoring 17 goals and earning a transfer to his hometown team PSG. That however is where things started to go wrong. Ben Arfa started just five league matches for PSG and was condemned to the reserves for 18 long months.
His qualities are undoubted with Lamouchi telling The Ligue 1 Show on beIN Sports: "He's a magician. He needs to play where he can do damage. Hatem should be in the heart of the action. He's a player who needs no introduction. It's hard to know how long he'll need to get up to speed because he hasn't played competitive football in a long time. But he's focused and in good physical shape. He knows what I expect from him, and I know he'll bring us a lot."
With Ben Arfa leading the way, Rennes have had a fruitful summer in the transfer market and look well capable of securing a second consecutive top-five finish.Lamouchi said: "It's what the Pinault family want, and the president has been working hard to bring in the kind of players who will enable us to take the step forward."