A Real deal to solve Fergie’s injury woe

Owen Hargreaves persistent injury problems have alerted Sir Alex Ferguson to the possible availability of the Real Madrid midfielder Lassana Diarra. The 25-year old Frenchman may be deemed surplus to requirements at the Madrid club following Jose Mourinho’s purchase of the German midfielder, Sami Khedira. Injury concerns and the need for new blood in midfield have led to reports that Manchester United are preparing a bid for the French international.

The player who was spared the ignominy of being included in France’s 23-man World Cup squad due to a stomach condition, arrived in West London in 2005 amid talk of being the new Makelele. However a lack of first team opportunities saw the midfielder leave Chelsea for Arsenal where he was largely outshone by Mathieu Flamini. Dissatisfied with his lack of playing time once more he moved to Portsmouth where he was finally able to showcase his combative style of football. The player felt the move was vindicated as he helped the south coast club win the FA Cup for the second time in their history and won a place in France’s Euro 2008 squad. His consistent performances at Fratton Park did not go unnoticed especially by the former Tottenham boss Juande Ramos. When the Spaniard arrived at the Bernabeu for a brief sojourn as manager he identified Diarra as the man to provide some defensive resilience to balance the side’s attacking flair.

Soon after arrival there in January 2009, Diarra won the support of the fans due to his exceptional work rate and presence in midfield despite his size. He is accurate and strong when tackling allowing him to come away cleanly with possession of the ball. The player is not known merely for his defensive qualities as once in possession he has the ability to set the tempo of the game, distributing long range passes and quick incisive ones too. These considerable and varied qualities have seen him deployed in varying positions, including at right back for Los Blancos.

With injury concerns and the need to refresh their midfield in the coming years, could Manchester United be tempted to snap up Diarra? His industrious agent would surely be only too happy to facilitate another big money move for him but there are questions over his potential place in United’s midfield. Sir Alex Ferguson does not have a reputation for being a tinkerman but the United boss shuffles the pack in terms of personnel and formations more than most. Diarra would therefore be sure of a role in their midfield but it is unlikely he would be the fulcrum of the side. The Real Madrid player may find his chances limited by the ever improving Darren Fletcher. The Scottish international has been a revelation at Old Trafford in recent seasons winning the confidence of his manager and playing regularly in the biggest games. His commanding displays have allowed him to control the midfield, neutralising even the most skilled players whilst charging from box to box assisting goals and scoring them too. Despite the all-round skills of Fletcher and Diarra the manager may feel that deploying two players of the same ilk would sap creativity in midfield.

Diarra’s qualities would make him an asset to any club and the player is to be admired for his desire not to be a bench-warmer. His chances at Madrid have recently been restricted by the World Cup winning Xabi Alonso. While he would provide strength and quality to United’s midfield he may find himself in a similar position up against Fletcher whose stock continues to rise in Manchester.

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