Diaby praise continues.
France coach Didier Deschamps hailed Abou Diaby as the “complete midfielder” after the Arsenal man marked his international return following a long-term injury with the winning goal against Finland. Diaby played just five times for Arsenal last season due to a string of injuries, including a calf problem and a broken ankle, but has started the Gunners’ first three games in the new Premier League campaign.
That was enough to persuade Deschamps to pitch him straight into 2014 FIFA World Cup™ qualifying action and the 26-year-old repaid his faith by converting Karim Benzema’s pass as Les Bleus opened their Group I campaign with a 1-0 win in Helsinki last night.
And the coach, for whom it was a first competitive game in charge after succeeding Laurent Blanc, said: “He is a boy with a lot of qualities, but I knew that. He is a complete midfielder.” Diaby himself added inL’Equipe: “It was a good return, I was pleased. I hope this will be the real return.”
When Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger calmly allowed Alex Song – widely considered to be the Gunners most important player behind Robin van Persie last season – to join Barcelona for £15m, eyebrows were raised.
Song was seen as Arsenal’s main midfield driving force, the man to break-up play and push forward, allowing pass-masters Mikel Arteta, Jack Wilshere, Aaron Ramsey (and now Santi Cazorla) to get on the ball. Losing the Cameroonian for a reasonable sounding transfer fee and without signs of a struggle suggested Wenger knew something we did not. Was a brand spanking new holding midfielder on his way to the Emirates?
No, as it turned out. Perhaps what Wenger knew was that Abou Diaby, after a season plagued by injury, was now fit and ready to make the step-up. And the lanky Frenchman has wasted no time catching the eye this season, with his faultless performance in the 2-0 win over Liverpool drawing comparisons with Yaya Toure.
Inevitably, given his frame and style of play Diaby will also get likened to Arsenal legend Patrick Vieira in future: he is not at that level yet, but further praise from Deschamps who, as a World Cup winner, know what makes a top enforcer, is more evidence of Diaby growing stature in the game
For Arsenal fans, long may this continue.
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