With the move of Lassana Diarra to Portsmouth fresh in everyone’s mind, STT has decided to walk you through the current quagmire that is the Diarras. Now Alou, Lassana and Mahamadou are all of Malian descent but only Mahamadou has retained this Africa nationality, as the other two were both actually born in France so have featured for the French national side over the last few years. They were also all unfortunately tagged with the kisses of death “the new Patrick Viera” or “the new Claude Makélélé” by the media, but are they actually any good?
Although initially we had planned to get the three chaps together in STT’s editorial HQ and have a milk race to decide who was the king of the Diarras, our HSE man advised us that this probably wouldn’t be the best course of action. Instead therefore we offer you some words of wisdom to help you loyal reader to decide for yourself…
Despite being attached to such European heavyweights as Bayern Munich, Liverpool and Lyon, Alou is perhaps the least successful and least well known of the Diarras. Despite being seen as somewhat of an embarrassment at Lyon last season, the club still received offers for the defensive midfielder from Manchester City, Portsmouth and Werder Bremen, before finally agreeing a sale worth €7.75m to rival French side Bordeaux. Improved form this season, along with a couple of vital goals, have earned him 12 caps for France now but at 26 years of age it certainly seems like Alou might have missed his window for greatness.
Lassana:Initially bought by Jose Mourinho at Chelsea seemingly to stop anyone else buying him, Lassana experienced only sporadic first team football during his two years at Stamford Bridge, appearing only 13 times before being sold to Arsenal at the last minute as August 2007’s transfer window closed. However, despite praise from Arsene Wenger and numerous impressive showings in the Carling Cup, once again, Lassana failed to attain the regular first team football he desired and deserved. Now at Portsmouth, the 22 year old defensive midfielder still has a chance to make a name for himself under Harry Redknapp, especially with the revelationary Sulley Muntari currently off on an African adventure with Ghana. The youngest of the bunch, Lassana could certainly shake off the unhelpful comparisons and actually achieve the same level of club and international success as Makélélé.
Perhaps the least known of the three to British readers, Mahamadou is on paper at least the best of the bunch, with 4 years of success at Lyon under his belt, and a dream move to Real Madrid last season. For the incredible price tag of €26m (£17.7m) you might expect the second coming, but as with the other two Diarras, Mahamadou is not a match winner but once again a “water carrier.” Strong, fit and with a fierce temper, he played a crucial role in Madrid’s La Liga title last year, allowing the likes of Guti and Robinho the space to play. Currently wanted by Inter Milan as a replacement for the soon-to-be-retiring Viera, I guess Mahamadou is the man most likely to succeed the veteran Frenchman as the desirable archetype for the next generation.