Lassana Diarra never fulfilled his true potential

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Fans of the Premier League will remember Lassana Diarra - the player who has never really lived up to the billing as 'the new Makelele'.

While the parallels between the two are obvious in both physical stature and playing style, Diarra has lost his way over the course of his career, but has been offered a lifeline by Marseille this summer.

The French club has been in turmoil in recent months - losing their star players Dimitri Payet, Florian Thauvin and Andre Ayew to the Premier League, as well as their manager Marcelo Bielsa who unexpectedly resigned after the first game of the new season. 


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After having lost their first two games of the season, it was imperative that Marseille picked up three points at home to Troyes on Sunday night. With a new manager in the shape of the Spaniard, Michel in the home dugout of the Stade Vélodrome, Marseille did indeed record their first win of the season and did so in some style as they put six past Troyes.

Marseille looked confident and fluid as Michy Batshuayi again showed his clinical finishing ability with two well-taken goals and new signing from Monaco Lucas Ocampos scored an acrobatic overhead kick in a match that restored some much-needed confidence amongst the 59,000 Marseille fans watching from the terraces. 

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The main talking point from the match, however, was the performance of newcomer Lassana Diarra. French fans have watched from afar as Diarra moved around Europe without ever really settling anywhere.

He cut a frustrated figure in London with Chelsea and then Arsenal as he was never able to establish himself as a first choice player at either clubs. With the Euro 2008 finals looming, Diarra sought more playing time and he moved to Portsmouth where he won the FA Cup in his only season on the south coast. His impressive form led to a big transfer to Spanish giants Real Madrid where he spent a successful three seasons at the heart of Los Blancos' midfield.

After falling out with the Madrid hierarchy, Diarra controversially rejected several moves to France and England in favour of a lucrative move to Russia. His time there was catastrophic as he joined the Anzhi Makhachkala project with Samuel Eto'o, before the club's investors backtracked on their investment and put all their players up for sale the following summer.

The Frenchman again snubbed moves to France, this time in favour of Lokomotiv Moscow, where he was disastrously sent off in his first two appearances and was then sacked by the Russian club after failing to attend training sessions. Following his release from Lokomotiv Moscow in August 2014 and a subsequent year-long absence from the game, Diarra's move to Marseille represents a big gamble for the French club.

Scoring an amazing swerving goal from outside the box on his Marseille and Ligue 1 debut (watch below), Diarra has seemingly silenced his critics, at least for the time-being. With a man-of-the-match display for his new club, the Marseille number 10 has vindicated the faith placed in him by the owners and coaching staff after he put in a faultless performance, in which he completed every one of his passes and scored only his fourth career goal.

Few have doubted his talent along the way - and at 30, it seems that he will never realise the enormous potential which inspired the tag 'the new Makelele'. However, now with a fresh start in the south of France the tough-tackling defensive midfielder will hope to steady the precarious Marseille ship and build on his one, outstanding performance for his new club. Perhaps Diarra may even get a call up for the French national team, five years after his last appearance with Les Bleus. 

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Lassana Diarra
Ligue 1

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