It may have been against rather modest opposition in the form of Peterborough, and it may well prove to be another countless case of a player producing his best form upon his debut for a new club before revealing his true, somewhat more modest colours, but Fousseni Diabate looked like a frighteningly promising talent during his first outing for Leicester in the Fourth Round of the FA Cup.
The Malian midfielder marked his debut with two impressive goals but was a relentless thorn in the opposition defence throughout the ninety minutes, in a performance reminiscent of what we’ve come to expect from team-mate Riyad Mahrez in a Foxes jersey.
Indeed, the 22-year-old also completed the joint-most dribbles of any player on the pitch, created three chances, took five efforts at goal, weighed in defensively with two tackles and completed 92% of his passes.
And that could well spell good news for Arsenal and Chelsea, who were both linked with Mahrez earlier in the January transfer window. While Leicester can’t pin their hopes on one strong performance in a 5-1 romping of a League One side, the similarities with Mahrez in terms of style and position suggests the signing from Ajaccio was acquired as the Algerian international’s long-term replacement.
Of course, there’s probably not enough time left to get a deal done before the transfer window slams shut on Wednesday night – and it remains to be seen if Arsenal are still interested in Mahrez after signing Henrikh Mkhitaryan from Manchester United.
But come the summer, once Diabate has been afforded six months to further bed into life in the east Midlands, Leicester may be more open to cashing in on their talismanic winger knowing they already have a successor within the club’s ranks.
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