There are some footballers who seemingly make a career out of moving clubs, and Lassana Diarra is one of them.
In the past six years the Frenchman has represented six different teams, frequently moving across the Premier League, then switching to Spain before finding his current home in the Lokomotiv Moscow midfield, where he’s been since August.
A 28-times capped international―although he hasn’t played for France since pulling out of the squad for the 2010 World Cup finals due to illness―Diarra is now 28 years old, and whilst for some players that might be a time to settle down and establish themselves at one club, another move could well be in the offing for the former Chelsea, Arsenal, Portsmouth, Real Madrid and Anzhi Makhachkala man.
While already being blessed in the central-midfield department by the likes of Fernandinho and Yaya Toure, City boss Manuel Pellegrini might see Diarra as an upgrade on some of his other options such as Javi Garcia, Jack Rodwell and Gareth Barry, the England man who is currently out on loan at Everton.
In the context of those players, perhaps a move for Diarra would make perfect sense as City seek to further bolster a squad that will be chasing the biggest prizes in the New Year.
Roberto Mancini wasn’t averse to bringing in the odd surprising midfield addition in recent years―Owen Hargreaves and David Pizarro anyone?―and while a move for Diarra wouldn’t quite register the same level of shock value as those purchases did, it would certainly be an interesting addition. It might be one that makes perfect sense, though.
Garcia has hardly sparkled since his move to Manchester, while Rodwell must surely have a desire to leave the club―at the very least on a temporary basis―in order to get some football, and Barry’s City career looks all but over.
In Diarra, City would be adding a combative force who is also handily versatile. He frequently played at right-back for Chelsea during the 2006/07 season, when he made 23 appearances for Jose Mourinho’s side.
A surprisingly short stint at Arsenal followed, after which Diarra soon became one of the symbols of the excess that would eventually bring down Portsmouth. He had an eventful 2008 with Pompey, which included an FA Cup win and scoring the club’s first-ever goal in a European competition.
Admittedly the Fratton Park club did receive a huge fee for him when he joined Real Madrid in January 2009, and for a while it looked as though the midfielder was going to settle down in the Spanish capital, where he played over 100 times and picked up a La Liga winners’ medal in his final full season at the club in 2012.
Competition for places was always fierce at the Bernabeu, though, with Diarra seemingly shoved toward the exit door on several occasions before finally heading through it for mega-rich Russian side Anzhi Makhachkala in August 2012.
The club’s money problems led to his departure for Lokomotiv Moscow a year later, though, and he’s quickly become a fans’ favourite and crucial influence on the team in the Russian capital since his arrival.
As we’ve seen, however, the Frenchman often can’t resist a transfer, and it will be interesting to see what happens should a Premier League heavyweight come calling this winter.
Diarra would surely have reservations about a move back to Arsenal due to his limited playing time there previously and the presence of fellow Frenchman Mathieu Flamini, a player who has proved that going back isn’t always a bad thing.
But at City he’d surely have Fernandinho and Toure ahead of him in the pecking order too.
As is so often the case in modern football, it is likely to come down to a question of money and just whether Diarra feels that once again becoming a small fish in a big pond would be right for him at this stage of his career.
It remains to be seen what he does, but perhaps he’d just be better off staying in Russia and continuing to be a vital part of the Lokomotiv team.
Maybe, just for once, Diarra should resist that ever-burning desire to move clubs.