Arsene Wenger has confirmed he will sit down with crocked midfielder Abou Diaby in March to discuss a potential new deal with Arsenal.
The 28-year-old has managed less than 90 minutes of first team football in the last two seasons and Wenger admitted he is still no where near a return to regular action. With his contract set to expire this summer, it was expected his nine-year stay in north London would come to an end.
But despite managing just 180 games since arriving in 2006, the Arsenal manager says he is prepared to sit down and discuss options with Diaby in the near future.
"Diaby is progressing in training, step-by-step, but he is not in a position to play yet," Wenger told reporters.
"I will have to talk to him soon (about his contract). I plan to do it in March."
The French midfielder has suffered a huge spate of injuries in his career, all leading back to a serious ankle injury suffered against Sunderland in his first season with Arsenal. Wenger has regularly pointed to the tackle by Dan Smith for causing Diaby's problems.
"He was destroyed by a bad tackle at Sunderland six or seven years ago which altered his ankle"
“He is a player that I have an enormous amount of respect for. Every time he comes back, he has to start from zero with another injury. He was a victim of competition,” Wenger told beINSport.
“A footballer needs his ankle. He was destroyed by a bad tackle at Sunderland six or seven years ago which altered his ankle. He is not a fragile player. He was the victim of an assassin’s tackle that went unpunished.”
Diaby had a terrific run of form in the 2012/13 season starting each of Arsenal's first four Premier League games and inspiring a 2-0 win over Liverpool with a man of the match performance.
However, he would later suffer cruciate ligament damage in his knee. Since appearing against Swansea City in March 2013, Diaby has made just two appearances for the first team. One of those came against Southampton earlier this season - a game Arsenal ended up losing 2-1.
It is obviously Diaby is highly rated by Wenger and the Frenchman will do whatever he can to get him back to full fitness. However, the midfielder has proven time and again that he is not capable of staying injury free. It is a surprise that he hasn't retired, let alone that Arsenal have kept him on board for this long.
If he does stay, it should be for a fraction of what the club currently pay him. I would suggest a pay-as-you-play deal, but no one wants to see him picking up next to nothing if another big injury hits.
Should Arsene Wenger offer Abou Diaby a new contract or just give up and release him? Give us your thoughts in the comments box below!