Former Arsenal captain Patrick Vieira claims Abou Diaby had the potential to be a player than he was but suggested that constant injury struggles have dented the impact the midfielder has had for both club and country.
Diaby has played just 117 games for the Gunners after suffering long spells out on the sidelines through a succession of horrific injuries.
"I am frustrated and disappointed for Abou Diaby with all the injuries he suffered," said the former Gunner who won the World Cup with France in 1998.
"If he could have improved constantly, he would have reached an exceptional level. About his potential, he is better than me, better on a technical level, better dribbler, and better scorer too. In one word, more versatile than I was.”
Could Diaby have been better than Patrick Vieira? Judging by the faith Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger has shown in the Frenchman over the years, he certainly believed he had the potential.
He has the same physical stature of Vieira and is an exceptional passer of the ball – it is perhaps his dribbling ability and technique which does indeed surpass that of his elder compatriot.
For a player of his physique to caress the ball in the way that smaller, trickier players might is something that would have seen him, were it not for his injuries, become one of the most influential players for his club and country.
"Maybe I was better in terms of physical impact. I suppose it is very difficult for him to have not reached his best. But maybe it is not too late," Vieira added.
Diaby missed last season in its entirety and the summer’s international tournament Euro 2012 for France. He has made just 16 senior appearances for the national side and scored his first ever goal for his country in their recent World Cup 2014 qualifier against Finland.
I’m inclined to suggest we have not seen the best of Abou Diaby and, sadly, I doubt that we ever will. Unfortunately his first major injury was a result of a horrific challenge from Sunderland’s Dan Smith back in 2006.
The result was a severe ankle fracture from which his form and fitness has never truly recovered. Niggle after niggle, his ability to perform at the highest level has diminished but there is always hope that he’ll return – perhaps to help Arsenal in their quest for that elusive trophy this year.
Once he returns from injury, that is.
image: © Ronnie Macdonald