Rafael Benitez should stay clear of former Real Madrid and Portsmouth midfielder Lassana Diarra if he intends on guiding Napoli to the Serie A title this forthcoming season.
The 29-year-old, who is currently plying his trade in Russia with Lokomotiv Moscow, is a target for the Italian giants but his lack of recent top level action means he is unfit for purpose at the very highest level.
Lucas Leiva and Marouane Fellaini of Liverpool and Manchester United are far more prestigious names and would be shrewd additions in spite of their hefty price tags.
In spite of unsuccessful spells in the Premier League with Arsenal and Chelsea, Diarra established himself as a solid holding midfielder during his time with Portsmouth.
He was part of the side that lifted the FA Cup in 2008 under the stewardship of Harry Redknapp, and earned a big money move to Madrid, with Juande Ramos shelling out £18.88million for his services.
Manuel Pellegrini often selected the Frenchmen during his time at the Santiago Bernabeu, but Jose Mourinho’s arrival in 2010 transformed his fortunes.
The Portuguese spent big to lure Sami Khedira from Stuttgart after the German impressed at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, in a move that signalled the end of Diarra’s time in the Spanish capital.
Despite attracting criticism for the move due to the rumours of a ridiculously high salary, the midfielder soon became a crucial clog in the side as they set about establishing themselves as one of the country’s leading forces.
Yet financial problems last summer gave the club no choice but to move him on, and as team-mates Eto’o and Willian jumped ship to Stamford Bridge with Chelsea he instead opted to remain in Russia with Lokomotiv Moscow.
The fact that Diarra has been out of the limelight for the past two years suggests that Benitez would do well to place his interest elsewhere.
Lucas and Fellaini are reportedly surplus to requirements at their current clubs, with both Brendan Rodgers and Louis van Gaal keen to trim the size of their squads before the Premier League resumes a week on Saturday.
The Liverpool midfielder is unlikely to wish to play second fiddle to the likes of Jordan Henderson, Adam Lallana and Steven Gerrard for too much longer, whilst United’s Belgian international endured a horrendous first season at the club under the tutelage of his former Everton manager David Moyes.
With their experience of playing for two of the biggest clubs in world football, it is they that the Spaniard should make a priority as opposed to the French outcast in Russia.
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