Playing for Chelsea and Arsenal is a threshold that many players do not cross. In the past ten years, the likes of Cesc Fabregas, Ashley Cole, and Petr Cech have moved from one side of London to another.
This week’s player is no exception, and swapped the blue of Chelsea for the red of Arsenal.
The Forgotten Blue this week is Lassana Diarra.
As a youngster, Diarra was rejected by a number of French clubs for being too small and lightweight. However, he eventually signed for a club; Le Harve. Due to his performances in defensive midfield, Diarra’s reputation grew and he attracted interested from a number of clubs around Europe.
One of the interested clubs was Chelsea, who believed him to be the ideal successor to Claude Makelele. After an initial trial at the club, the Blues paid £1m for Diarra and he joined the club in July 2005.
He started the 2005/06 season with the first team, but did not feature much. He made his debut in the Champions League, coming on as a substitute against Real Betis. He would make a total of seven first-team appearances during the season for Chelsea, and was named as the club’s Young Player of the Year for the season.
The following season saw Diarra involved in the first team on a more consistent basis. Due to a number of injuries, Diarra featured mostly at right-back. He started in Chelsea’s win in the 2007 League Cup final, and was an unused sub in the 2007 FA Cup final; which Chelsea also won.
In the summer, however, Diarra wanted to leave the club for more first-team football. Arsenal were one club interested, and with his deal set to expire in the new year, Chelsea opted to sell the player rather than letting him leave on a free.
However, he did not find the regular football he was searching for. After five months at the club, he had only made 13 appearances in all competitions. He would eventually leave the Emirates in January, and signed for fellow Premier League side Portsmouth.
At Fratton Park, he enjoyed regular football. The Frenchman would play every minute of Portsmouth FA Cup run in 2008, as Pompey defeated Cardiff 1-0 in the final, and earned qualification into the UEFA Cup. He went on to score Portsmouth’s first goal in European competition, as he netted against Vitoria de Guimaraes.
His impressive form for Portsmouth earned interested from bigger clubs around Europe. He signed for Real Madrid, and spent a number of years in the Spanish capital. He made 117 appearances across four and a half seasons at the club.
His next move was to Russia, as he signed for Anzhi Makhachkala, joining the likes of Samuel Eto’o and Willian at the club. However, this was only short-lived as the owner transfer listed all the players due to cost-cutting. He stayed in Russia, and joined Lokomotiv Moscow. He started well in the Russian capital, but things eventually soured for Diarra. He fell out with manager Leonid Kuckuk, and then failed to turn up for training. He was eventually sacked by the club in 2014.
He returned to his native France and signed for the club he supported as a boy, Marseille. He enjoyed an impressive debut season at the club, and was named in the Ligue 1 team of the year. The following summer, he was named as Marseille’s new captain, after the departure of Steve Mandanda to Crystal Palace.
However, Rudi Garcia’s appointment saw Diarra stripped of the captaincy and dropped from the team. He made 11 appearances for the club during the season before being released in February 2017.
Diarra signed for yet another club in April, as he joined Al Jazira of the United Arab Emirates.