Abou Diaby is a midfielder for the French national side and Arsenal in the English Premier League. He is a box-to-box midfielder who has been likened to Patrick Vieira because of his tough-tackling, height and lanky physique. He is on the verge of France’s first team, and earned himself a regular place in Arsenal’s first-team.
Diaby was born in Paris on 11th May 1986, and joined the world-famous Claire Fontaine academy aged just 12 years old. He started off with Paris Saint-Germain, but fell out with his coaches there and instead opted to move to join Auxerre’s youth ranks, winning the U16 National Championship in the white shirt.
In the summer of 2004, Diaby signed professional forms and became a member of the first team squad aged 18. His performances in the reserves soon saw him getting games, with his first league appearance coming in August 2004.
After just 10 games for the club (over two seasons) French Manager Arsene Wenger took the £2m plunge and bought the bright young prospect to Arsenal, despite reputed interest from Chelsea.
Diaby joined Arsene Wenger’s revolution in January 2006, and chose the number 2 shirt which is usually reserved for defenders. At Arsenal, he was able to learn from the likes of Thierry Henry and Patrick Vieira himself. He made his debut later that month, and was on his way to becoming a fans favourite when disaster struck – he was injured at the wrong-end of a two-footed lunge, and suffered a broken and dislocated ankle that kept him out of action for 8 months. His biggest disappointment was missing the Champions League Final 2006 against Barcelona.
Two average seasons followed, again blighted by injuries, but he slowly began to prove himself to the fans and Arsene. Wenger showed his trust in Diaby when he allowed Gilberto Silva and Mathieu Flamini to move on at the start of 2008/09 without replacing them – telling the Press that he believed the replacement was already at the club.
Since his return to fitness in October 2008, Diaby has featured in the majority of Arsenal’s games, and is now the preferred partner to Cesc Fabregas in Arsenal’s central midfield.
Diaby captained the French U19 squad in the 2005 European Championships, and has since been called up to the French national side, making his debut in March 2007.