Former Arsenal and Chelsea midfielder Lassana Diarra is training with West Ham United as his search for a new club continues.
Diarra has been without a club since a rather acrimonious exit from Lokomotiv Moscow, content to stay a free agent for the entire season despite strong interest from a number of clubs in Europe.
The 29-year-old hasn't played a competitive game for nine months but Hammers boss Sam Allardyce could be about to offer the French international a career lifeline, confirming that he's in training at Chadwell Heath as talks continue over a short-term deal.
Premier League return
Allardyce is optimistic that despite a lack of match practice Diarra's wealth of experience will allow the versatile midfielder to have a quick impact at West Ham, as they bid to keep the dual goals of European qualification and FA Cup success alive during the second half of the season.
“He is training with us,” Allardyce told The Guardian. "I’m not so sure whether we have finalised a deal yet but he is doing a little bit of training with us. The deal is very close to being finalised and on the basis of where we are with our squad and the injuries, once we have him fit he will be a very good addition based on his previous record as a footballer.”
Good move for the Hammers?
“He won’t be in any good shape in terms of being on the bench on Wednesday or on the bench on Saturday against West Brom.
“But I certainly hope that, with a good few days training with the lads, he will be close in seven to 10 days if he finally signs the contract.”
West Ham fans may view a move for a player past his prime with scorn, but on the surface at least this has to be viewed as something of a coup.
Diarra has played 28 times for France and also acutely aware of the challenges presented by the Premier League, having played for Arsenal, Chelsea and Portsmouth across a four-year spell that eventually landed him a dream move to Real Madrid.
A hugely promising career has tailed off significantly since that high point, but if Allardyce can get anything approaching the best from Diarra between now and May its certainly a gamble worth taking, particularly with Alex Song's long-term future still very much open to debate.