It would not have surprised many to read Friday’s news that Abou Diaby would be out until March after a setback in his recovery from cruciate knee ligament damage.
Since joining from Auxerre in 2005, Diaby has struggled with a series of muscular and calf problems with this being the latest in a long run of injuries for the midfielder who has been restricted to just 35 appearances for Arsenal since 2010. To date, the 27-year-old has made just 123 appearances for Arsenal in seven years.
It would have come as a crushing blow to the 27 year old who, a day later after the news broke, watched his team-mates hammer Norwich 4-1 to remain top of the Premier League table.
With the drive of Jack Wilshere, the mobility and stamina of Aaron Ramsey and the creative brilliance of Mesut Özil and Santi Cazorla all in superb form and competing for places in the Gunner’s midfield, Diaby may find himself the forgotten man as the prospect of a whole season without football looms large.
The form of Mathieu Flamini since his return from AC Milan and that of Thomas Rosicky will also push the 27 year old further down the order and it is hard to identify the player Diaby, who has 16 caps for France, would dislodge should Arsene Wenger’s faith continue. The Frenchman will also have a new generation to contend with, the emergence of Serge Gnabry promising a bright future after his impact in the game at Swansea.
A technically gifted box-to-box midfielder who blends an imposing physical frame with dexterity and balance, Wenger is correct to persist with Diaby, especially after the excellent performances he produced at the start of last season.
He is a fine squad option for Wenger to have, though likely to enter the final year of his contract with not a single minute of competitive football in 18 months and a wretched record with injuries seriously compromising his value, it may be an opportunity to ease his £60,000- a week wages from the bill.
Having joined from Auxerre for just £2 million, the story was supposed to follow a better script than this. A versatile player who has converted from creative attacking midfielder to an explosive deeper-lying force, Wenger has repeatedly compared him to Arsenal’s former French midfield rock, Patrick Vieira.
If that was testament enough to the player’s ability, he also received endorsement off the former captain himself. It is a career that has promised so much but has been torn apart by seemingly constant injury problems.
“He had a little key hole surgery again on the knee because his knee blew up every time he did something” said Wenger, disappointed to learn of his player’s latest woe. “He could not even jog yet so with new surgery it is a setback for him so competitive football cannot be played before next March.”
The French international had undergone surgery in Qatar after the initial injury back in March and has been following a strict rehabilitation program as he aimed to recover in time for Christmas.
Injury absence is a familiar tale for Diaby as well as all Arsenal fans, but with the midfielder desperate to return in time to have sufficient impact on the Gunner’s season as he aims to make a late claim for a spot in France’s squad for the World Cup, it is a target that has sadly been altered. Instead his main ambition will be to focus on getting fit for next season in order to secure his Arsenal future.
With Arsenal’s current crop sitting pretty at the top of the league with all things rosy at the Emirates, it may be a task too hard for arguably the unluckiest player in the game.
Written by Adam Gray
Follow Adam on Twitter @AdamGray1250
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