The story of Lassana Diarra is extremely familiar. Disillusioned at Chelsea, he joined Arsenal in August (still only nine months ago), before complaining about his lack of opportunities and moving to Portsmouth in January. Within days, he was declaring the south coast club as nothing more than a stepping stone, a wonderful way to endear yourself to the fans.
His lack of bottle is plain to see. Rather than knuckle down and fight for his place like Flamini did, earning him a big money move to Milan which it is hard to criticise him for, he is trying to justify his move to a club only playing in Europe for the first time next season.
Wenger commented on the circumstances around Diarra’s departure recently:
“I came to the conclusion that Diarra could not cope with the fact that he was behind the other players here in midfield. I bought Diarra in the summer because I thought Flamini might leave at the end of the season and if he was able to be patient, he would get his chance.”
“It turned out he wasn’t capable of that. With Euro 2008 in mind, he panicked.”
“I did explain when he joined that he might have to be patient, and he acknowledged it, but he couldn’t cope with the situation, and also did not want to go on loan anywhere either.”
You can sense the frustration in these words, knowledge that Diarra had the ability but not the attitude to succeed. And Wenger’s words mirror exactly what the rest of us think of the midfielder, with his complete lack of understanding of the competition found at top clubs.
Diarra has now responded, and quite frankly, emphasised his mental, er, deficiencies:
“Do you really think I would leave a side like Chelsea to join Arsenal if certain promises were not made? I did not panic but wanted to play as promised.”
“Portsmouth winning the FA Cup has more than justified my decision to make the move from Arsenal back in January.”
Firstly, there is absolutely no way that Wenger would’ve promised Diarra regular games. He may have promised that he’d be involved with the first team (as he did with Bendtner), and he followed through with that. Don’t forget that Diarra played thirteen games before he left, only four months after joining.
If a player has bottle, they take their absence from the team as an incentive, and strive to prove the manager wrong. Diarra does not have that kind of attitude, preferring instead to only join a club that promises him a place every week. Let’s be straight about this – at a big club no player is afforded that luxury. If you do not perform, you’re out.
And Portsmouth’s FA Cup justified the decision? Enjoy the UEFA Cup, Lassana, before your club drifts back into mid table obscurity. Of course, you’ll probably have left by then.
But a measure of Diarra’s self-importance is gathered from his dig at Wenger over Flamini’s departure:
“Perhaps to lose one French international midfielder may be regarded as misfortune. To lose two looks like carelessness.”
What a plank. He was signed precisely because Flamini was liable to leave, and had he shown patience, he would now be stepping into the breach. But the suggestion that Wenger has thrown away two top players shows an over inflated ego of a man who has achieved precisely nothing yet, and is at risk of remaining underneath that glass ceiling. What top club wants his attitude?