Poor old Abou Diaby – the Arsenal midfielder just can’t seem to catch a break. Just when things were looking up and he was making his first return to Premier League football for quite some time, he goes and picks up yet another injury. He replaced the injured Mikel Arteta (who replays show was upended by Jordan Henderson – on purpose) on the 53rd minute of the Gunner’s clash with Liverpool but only managed 30 minutes of playing time before he too had to be replaced.
Speaking soon after the game, Wenger noted: “The bad news of the day is that Diaby is injured and did his hamstring.” This of course will be put down to bad luck, but in reality it’s nothing of the sort. This is a man who has never really recovered from a traumatic injury back in 2006. As a result he has struggled to find regular football over the course of five years and it is little wonder that he’s picking up niggly injuries such as this.
You say bad luck, I say Dan Smith, the man whose tackle has almost entirely derailed a promising player’s career. It’s suffered little sympathy when research uncovered Smith to have fallen out of favour with Sunderland and dropped down the various levels of footballing competition to wind up playing for Conference North side Blyth Spartans.
Sad as it is, Diaby has now become Arsenal’s Owen Hargreaves. He’s not a man you can rely upon to play regularly and the threat of injury will always hover around his person. With reports suggesting that the Gunner’s are paying Diaby £60k a week, it’s clear that something needs to change.
That doesn’t necessarily mean that I endorse Arsenal selling Diaby to free up some more space on the wage bill. After all, prior to this season, many fans were suggesting Arsenal sell Robin Van Persie who had struggled with similar injury issues. The fear is that if Arsenal were to sell Diaby, he’d find his feet again and go on to make it big with another team.
When he’s fit Diaby has rangy pace, aggression and immaculate technical ability (he’s certainly up there with the best in Arsenal’s squad). To unlock all this, I think the best move would be to put him on a Pay as you Play contract. Whilst it’s not Diaby’s fault that he’s permanently injured he may well feel that he owes the club something. A PAYP contract could be ideal for both.
It provides a motivation for Diaby who will still have full access to Arsenal’s medical services without the Gunners having to worry about whether it’s a wasted investment. Surely that’s a win-win?
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