Arsenal now simply must venture into the transfer market this summer to buy a midfielder, writes Jack Watson.
After countless injuries that have prevented Abou Diaby from completing any of the past four seasons, the Frenchman’s time at Arsenal now seems to be over after rupturing his anterior cruciate ligament in training this week.
His latest injury setback will keep the midfielder out for 9 months, possibly longer with his poor track record of recovery. Diaby will undergo surgery immediately and will almost certainly play his first game back from injury at some point next year.
Its another unfortunate strike of bad luck for a player who has always looked so comfortable playing at the highest level in England.
A talented midfielder with fantastic power, precision and pace blighted by injuries. At 26, Diaby is now reaching his prime years as a footballer, but with so many injuries, one must wonder how long his career will last, never mind what date he returns from his latest of injuries.
This knee injury is his 36th while at Arsenal, throughout a period of six years. That’s six, on average, every year, so its obvious to see why he has missed so many games.
Diaby was a midfielder dubbed ‘the next Vieira’ when he first broke through into the Arsenal midfield. His style of play was almost parallel to Vieira’s, despite the difference in ability. Arsene Wenger looked to have found another gem - all he needed to do was polish it.
However, it wasn’t meant to be. Some Arsenal fans still love it when Diaby plays because he adds an extra dimension to the Gunners’ midfield, in both attack and defence.
But this latest injury saw an outburst of frustration online. For all of the past injuries he has suffered, they were met with sympathy and apathy - now it is pure frustration, and many have called for him to be released immediately. After all, Arsenal have been paying wages to a player who has spent more time on the physiotherapist’s table than on the football pitch.
A gifted player blighted by a conveyor belt of injuries who must now fight back from a potential career-ending knee ligament injury is not what Arsenal need. They have done so well to support him throughout his torturous years, but they now must look beyond loyalty and sentiment and release him.
It’s kind of Arsenal to keep taking care of him and nursing the Frenchman back to health, but when will it end?
They cannot continue to keep looking after him. If the club feel sorry for him, then they must know that there is no room for sentiment in football. It is a business and a game in which you must win in. Carrying a severely injury-prone player everywhere you go will not help you achieve this.
It’s time for Arsenal to cut their losses, admit defeat, and let Diaby go. When a pet is sick with no signs of recovery, you let it go. Arsenal have no other choice.
image: © Ronnie Macdonald