Stephane Diarra has admitted that he had the chance to sign for Newcastle United and Leicester City before opting to join Ligue 1 newcomers Lorient instead, while speaking to Ouest France.
One of the speediest forwards in French football might be lacking somewhat in the end product department, but his raw potential had clubs on both sides of the Channel fluttering their eyelashes in his direction.
L’Equipe reported back in November that Premier League duo Newcastle and Leicester were both interested, with Diarra showcasing his explosive acceleration at Le Mans.
And, after sealing a switch to Ligue 2 champions Lorient, the 21-year-old Ivorian has admitted that there this was not merely idle paper-talk.
“Many clubs have contacted me, such as the English clubs in Newcastle and Leicester, but also French teams Lille, Monaco or Marseille,” Diarra explains.
“Conversations with Christophe Le Roux, (Lorient’s) sporting director, and coach Christophe Pelissier were decisive in my decision-making.
“I knew Lorient was a quality team that played good football – and I needed a playful and efficient team. It was important for me to stay in France. Since childhood, I have dreamed of playing in Ligue 1.”
Diarra did admit that he could look to take a bigger step up the footballing ladder once he proves himself at Lorient. And, for a young man, he seems to have a sensible head on his shoulders.
The former Evian and Rennes winger should find regular first-team football easy to come by at the newly-promoted outfit, without Miguel Almiron, Allan Saint-Maximin, Harvey Barnes, Marc Albrighton and more for competition.