One of the hardest things in football is witnessing an immensely talented footballer’s career curtailed by serious injury.
And no club knows this pain better than Arsenal. The club who have been derided for their handling of injuries have had a number of major concerns in recent years about, in no particular order, Tomas Rosicky, Jack Wilshere, Aaron Ramsey, and Abou Diaby.
There were fears for Rosicky’s career when, aged 28, he picked up a long-term injury which kept him out for almost eighteen months, and many thought he may never come back.
Other stars have overcome injury setbacks
Jack Wilshere suffered an ankle injury in 2011 that seems to be still affecting him today. And Ramsey suffered a horrific leg break from a Ryan Shawcross tackle in 2010, which the midfielder himself admitted it took him years to recover from.
But the difference between this trio, and poor old Abou Diaby, is that they’ve come back. Rosicky, while rarely a regular in the Arsenal team, has shown glimpses of his enduring brilliance this season at the grand-old age of 34. Wilshere (despite additional injuries) has returned to both the Arsenal and England fold. And Ramsey had arguably his best season in the 2013-14 campaign.
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Diaby's time is up
But, as hard as it is to say, I think Diaby’s time may be up. At one stage, he had the potential to be truly brilliant, the long-term successor to Patrick Vieira. But a horror challenge in 2006, which shattered the Frenchman’s ankle, was to be the beginning of his injury struggles, and one from which he’s never really recovered. He has had other injuries since, but most can be related back to that day in 2006.
The last couple of years for Diaby have been a seemingly never-ending personal hell. This season he has played only 67 minutes of football. Last season he managed one 16-minute substitute appearance. Overall, in the last four years, he has managed a mere 22 appearances.
Contract set to expire
It is dreadfully sad to see Diaby’s promising career take such a downturn, but with his contract up in the summer, and his fitness seemingly no closer, surely there can be no renewal for him this time.
Arsene Wenger’s determination to defend the player is very admirable. And everyone in the game has hoped to see his condition improve. But now, perhaps, the time is right to call it a day. If not in football altogether, then at least at Arsenal.