The effect of failing to sign a defensive midfielder seems to have started rearing its ugly head at Arsenal. With ageing Mikel Arteta and Mathieu Flamini as the rated and fit anchormen in the Arsenal midfield, there was the clamour for a younger defensive midfield player before the transfer window closed early this month. The same can be said of the Arsenal backline where only 6 senior team defenders are available, 3 of whom are out injured already. Now, Arsenal has been linked with a couple of free agent defenders in the last one week to salvage the defensive problem due to injury and names like Joseph Yobo, Mario Yepes and Diego Lugano came up in the media. However, the only hope of having a new defensive midfielder was to wait till January when another transfer window opens until now that reports say that Arsenal are interested in bringing back Lassana Diarra to the Emirates.
Lassana Diarra like the veteran defenders linked to Arsenal as a result of injuries to defenders, is a free agent whose contract at Lokomotiv Moscow has expired. Though not the younger and versatile, Patrick Vieira-like defensive midfielder most Arsenal fans crave, Lassana Diarra at 29 is an upgrade on Arteta and Flamini and interestingly would be available without a transfer fee. Diarra, who almost joined Queen Park Rangers on deadline day was at Chelsea and Arsenal for short periods and has played for top sides in Europe. The French player is now unattached and the Express has linked him to Arsenal. In addition to his defensive midfield qualities, Lassana Diarra could also play as right full back where Mathieu Debuchy played before his ankle injury. Arsene Wenger, who signed the player back in 2007, may have been attracted to the player because of his versatility as he also gets upfront sometimes as seen in his days at Real Madrid.
Diarra is a strong sturdy player who may interest a lot of Arsenal fans because of his physical presence on the pitch and most especially the fact that he would add more steel to the Arsenal midfield than Mikel Arteta and Mathieu Flamini are doing presently. However, with Arteta the captain of the side, he may have to play alongside the Spaniard except Arsene Wenger does a Thomas Vermaelen on Arteta. Many supporters of the Gunners were worried when the Captain’s arm band was given to Mikel Arteta just before the season started because that to them, may be the end of Arsenal’s search for a defensive midfielder in the summer. True to their suspicion, Arsene Wenger refused to sign a defensive midfielder despite being linked with an array of young stars who would bring youth, strength and some physicality to the Arsenal midfield. Names like Morgan Schneiderlin, Sami Khedira, Luis Gustavo and William Carvalho were bandied around the media with links to Arsenal. However, none of these players made the switch to the Emirates.
This season, we have seen Mikel Arteta and Mathieu Flamini and it does not seem Arsenal would cope against very physical and attacking sides of the English Premier League with the duo. Therefore, Wenger could right his wrong this time by bringing in Lassana Diarra either on a short or long term basis as he would be useful not only as a defensive midfielder to the Gunners.