Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has been criticised left, right and centre for not signing a defensive midfielder in the summer transfer window.
Real Madrid’s World Cup winner Sami Khedira and Sporting Lisbon star William Carvalho were both linked with moves to the Emirates Stadium, but in the end nothing materialised.
Why Wenger did not sign an anchorman-in-midfield has been debated endlessly, but Arsenal legend Alan Smith suspects that it may have something to do with the return to full fitness of Abou Diaby.
‘He is different to the small technical players they’ve got’, the 51-year-old told Sky Sports. ‘He’s powerful; he can open those legs and get up and down the pitch. He had a little run of games last season and then he got injured.
‘He’s a top player and I think he can move to defensive midfield. He hasn’t had that run of games to bed himself into that position, but this is maybe why Wenger hasn’t gone for this sort of player.
‘That holding player is the kind that fans are crying out for but I don’t think he’d dare to say publicly that he was hoping for Diaby to do the job because he’s been let down by injuries so many times’.
Diaby is one of the most injury-prone footballers in the modern game and has played just once in the last 18 months. The 28-year-old suffered a career-threatening cruciate knee ligament injury, but he has now fully recovered and is likely to play an important role for Arsenal this season.