Arsenal midfielder Diaby 'can be as good as Vieira' says Sagna

Arsenal midfielder Bacary Sagna has been talking up his teammate Abou Diaby.

After 13 months out, midfielder Abou Diaby returned to action this week, playing 45 minutes for Arsenal's under-21 side.

The young Gunners slipped from 1-0 up to losing 2-1 after he went off, illustrating that even while far from fully match fit, he was able to have an impact.

The Frenchman may not play for the first team this season, as he steps up his comeback from his injured ACL, but simply playing competitive football again is a major step in the right direction.

Diaby's contract expires in 2015, and next season will be a big one for the central midfielder as he bids to finally fulfill his potential.

He is now 27, and it's a full eight years since he signed for the club, described at the time by manager Arsene Wenger as a 'tremendous addition'.

Diaby was hailed by the media at the time as the next Patrick Vieira, the former Gunners captain who had left the club a year earlier.

A succession of injuries have prevented him from reaching that potential, but teammate Bacary Sagna believes he is as good as the 1998 World Cup Final goalscorer when on the top of his game.

He told "To me he is one of the best in the world [when he is fit]. When he's at his best he can play as well as Patrick Vieira did and as good as many players did. He can be useful for the team and he can be decisive."

Diaby offers Arsenal an extra dimension when fit, his imposing figure is like none in the Arsenal midfield, and memories of him dominating Steven Gerrard at Anfield in September 2012 are still relatively fresh.

If Diaby can finally have some luck and stay fit for an entire season, Arsenal may just have a real player on their hands, and a crucial one who will hope to help emulate former captain Patrick Vieira and win the Premier League.

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