Julian Finney/Getty Images
I was one of many almost seething with excitement when former France captain Alou Diarra signed for West Ham in the summer. After a decade away from the Premier League, the midfielder, who spent three gameless years with Liverpool early in his career, was finally getting the chance to test his mettle in the midst of the world’s most competitive league. At 6 foot 3, and offering pace, poise, and power, there is something of the Patrick Vieira about the way Diarra can take a grip of a midfield contest and drive his team forward.
Indeed, his signing for West Ham seemed like something of a coup for the East Londoners—the midfielder possessing a French league title and a World Cup runners up medal amongst his honours.
The reality has been an undignified mess, with Diarra claiming that he had been duped into signing for the Hammers, and has barely shared a word with Sam Allardyce in his 6 months in the capital. The fact that he has played only 2 hours in 5 months suggests that there is some substance to these claims, or perhaps it’s just an instance of a player not ‘fitting’ at a club.
A loan deal to Rennes, to replace the void left by Yann M’Vila, has solved the immediate problem of the midfielder, but having signed a 3-year deal in the summer, Big Sam will have to find a way to incorporate Diarra into his plans, or to jettison the deadwood for good.