Monday, 22 December 2008

Diarra for Diarra

With the signing of Lassana Diarra from English Premiership side Portsmouth, Real Madrid have taken their pre-Christmas spending to 40 million euros, matching the amount spent two years ago to sign Gago, Higuaín and Marcelo. That figure only takes into account the 'baseline' amount agreed between Real Madrid and Ajax for Huntelaar earlier this month, as a further 7 million may be paid out depending on results over the next few seasons.

Portsmouth have made a nice return on a player they splashed out £5 million for just under a year ago. With a reported transfer fee of £20 million, or €20 million (the near parity between the pound and the euro means that the numbers in both currencies are virtually identical), Lassana Diarra has now hit the big time.

Except this is not the first time he has joined a large club. He started his professional career in French second division side Le Havre (despite having the same surname as Mahamadou, given his Malian descent, Lassana was born in Paris and has already been called up to the French national side). In 2005 he moved to Chelsea, but did not feel he was given enough opportunities by Jose Mourinho and moved to Arsenal in 2007.

Life under Arsene Wenger was no better (in terms of first team football, at least) and Lassana decided to leave after just five months to join Portsmouth, in an attempt to get more playing time and exhibit his potential for other clubs to see. He is clearly ambitious and the injury crisis at Real will very likely furnish him plenty of opportunities this season to show off his talent. Whether he makes the most of them remains to be seen.

Although he plays in the same position as Mahamadou Diarra, as a defensive midfielder, his style is less about athleticism and muscle, and more about vision of play and passing accuracy.

Lassana completed his transfer after passing his medical on Monday afternoon and signed a four-and-a-half year deal that will see him play for Real Madrid until 2013. He will wear the number 6 jersey, the same as his namesake, although with the nickname "Lass", rather than his surname, to avoid confusion.

Last week, Real Madrid also negotiated the early return of one of its youngsters. Dani Parejo had joined Queen's Park Rangers on loan at the beginning of the season, and will be another option in midfield for Juande Ramos, although he's less likely to get as much playing time from the off as Lassana Diarra.


Anonymous said...

Is this another expensive mistake? I would be interested to read what other supporters think. If neither Chelsea or Arsenal wanted him, why is coming to us with such an expensive price tag?

Gonzalo said...

Maybe - only time will tell. Real paid the same amount for Gago almost exactly 2 years ago, and it's still up for discussion whether he was worth it. It is a punt on youth and talent over experience and a proven track record.

On the other hand the 13 million we paid for Higuaín at that time are looking particularly good value right now...

madridista said...

But how can he wear no 6 if that's Mahamadou's number ?