Monday, October 22, 2007

Diarra Sets Christmas Ultimatum

When I polled this blog's readers in September, regarding this Summer's best signing, Arsene Wenger was (unsurprisingly) the winner. I was shocked, though, to see that Lassana Diarra came in second, with Eduardo in third, and Bacary Sagna in a distant fourth.

Well maybe that will have changed by now. Sagna has been solid at right-back, while Eduardo has only featured occasionally, and Diarra has yet to start a league game in an Arsenal shirt.

Diarra was brought in to cover for Gilberto and Mathieu Flamini as a defensive midfielder, but so far Flamini's impressive form has managed to keep both the Brazil captain and the promising 22 year-old out of the Arsenal squad.

Diarra, who moved from Chelsea because he wasn't getting enough first-team chances under Jose Mourinho, is receiving even fewer chances under Arsene Wenger. The young Frenchman is tired of waiting, and has publicly stated that he will try to leave Arsenal during the January transfer window if he doesn't start nailing down a first-team place by December.

"For the moment, everything is going fine and I'm learning, but I cannot stay like this for ever," Diarra told The Times.

"I'm not going to wait for a year because I changed clubs in order to play.

"I'm not stupid. If I come to Arsenal and my situation is the same as at Chelsea, then I should have stayed at Chelsea. If I come to Arsenal, it's to play. In a few months, I'll have to decide what I want to do.

He added: "I've played more games for my country than for my club, which is ridiculous.

"When I came to Chelsea, I was 19, so to wait for a year is OK, but when I'm playing for the French national team with the European Championship coming, I need to play regular football.

"When Wenger signed me, he knew the player I am. I've been in this kind of situation before, so it's not new to me. I've waited for a long time, but I'm 22 and cannot wait as I have in the past.

"I know Arsenal are a very good team, playing good football and top of the league, but I want to play.

"If I'm not playing by Christmas I may have to go somewhere else."

Personally, I feel as though Gilberto may leave Arsenal in January, seeing as how he isn't getting much playing time at the club, and there is interest from Italy and Spain. If Gilberto does leave, Diarra would have to stay, as we would need back up for Flamini.

Gilberto will be on his way out soon enough (especially after missing out on the captain's armband) so Diarra should stay at Arsenal. The real question is, will he get any playing time?