Remember Didier Digard? Well he is certainly attracting attention now...
The 2007-08 season for Middlesbrough was one of your everyday run-of-the-mill campaigns. With Stewart Downing starring for Gareth Southgate’s side as they finished in 13th place.
But it was an interesting year in terms of transfers at the club.
On paper they looked to be doing good business. They snapped up Jonathan Woodgate, Sanli Tuncay, Mido and then smashed their transfer record for Afonso Alves.
But the players that left were more alarming. Woodgate’s stay was short and they lost long serving keeper Mark Schwarzer to Fulham as well as selling Yakubu and James Morrison before the season got under way.
So perhaps the writing was on the wall for the 2008-09 campaign?
After 11 years straight in the Premier League Boro were relegated; finishing 19th in the league table.
Their transfer activity was much more mooted this time around but a talented Frenchman called Didier Digard was brought in to replace the departing Lee Cattermole.
Signed from Paris Saint-Germain the 22-year-old was a French under-21 level and big things were expected of him at Riverside after his £4 million switch from the French capital.
Despite a promising start, including an excellent goal against Yeovil Town in the League Cup, things soon turned sour for the player.
In February 2009 he was, rather ironically, side-lined for three months by a crunching tackle by Cattermole in a game against Wigan.
Overall Digard played just 23 Premier League games for the club; many of those appearances coming as a substitute.
After Boro suffered relegation he again struggled for form and injury and was loaned out too Nice in January 2010; a deal that became permanent after Gordon Strachan disposed of the player and that might have been the last you ever heard of the player.
But he has excelled since his arrival in the South of France and this summer is one of Europe’s most sought after bachelors.
With his contract expiring in 2014 teams from across Spain and France are said to be considering moves for the now 27-year-old who could be available for €2.5 million; after he led Nice as captain to a tremendous fourth place finish in Ligue 1 last campaign.
Nice have already gone so far as to sign a ready-made replacement for the star in the form of the ’next Makelele’ Nampalys Mendy from AS Monaco.
And with Real Betis, Sevilla, Atletico Madrid, Valencia, Malaga and Toulouse all reportedly interested it seems Digard has come a long way since that horror stint on Teesside.
image: © steenbergs