Vassiriki Abou Diaby (born 11 May 1986), commonly known as Abou Diaby, is a French footballer who plays for English club Arsenal in the Premier League and the France national team. He primarily plays as a box-to-box central midfielder, as he is adept in both attack and defence, and is described as a player who is "languid, elusive, and athletic" that can either "dribble past opponents or slip passes to team-mates". Of Ivorian descent, Diaby also possesses "superb touch" and "excellent close control", however on the negative front, he often struggles with repetitive injuries, a problem that has existed since his time in France. His physical appearance and positional preference have evoked comparisons to Arsenal legend and compatriot Patrick Vieira.
He began his football career playing for hometown club CM Aubervilliers. In 1998, he joined Red Star Paris. A year later, Diaby was selected to attend the Clairefontaine academy. He spent four years at the academy while simultaneously training with Red Star. A year before departing Clairefontaine, Diaby moved to professional club Paris Saint-Germain. Following an administrative error by club officials which made Diaby a free agent, he joined the academy of Auxerre. He spent two years in the club's youth academy before making his professional debut in the 2004–05 season. Diaby also played in the UEFA Cup with the club. In January 2006, Diaby signed with English club Arsenal on a long-term contract for an undisclosed fee. He made his debut with the club that same month and scored his first goal three months later against Aston Villa. Since joining Arsenal, Diaby has struggled with injuries, which included suffering a severe ankle fracture five months after joining the club.
The 2011–12 campaign for Diaby was blighted once again by injury problems. He made just four substitute appearances during the Premier League campaign and one in the UEFA Champions League. However with the departure of Alex Song ahead of the 2012-13 season, Abou Diaby has started all three of Arsenal's opening games. His performance against Liverpool saw him awarded Man of the Match by Sky Sports in Arsenal's 2-0 win at Anfield
Diaby is a former French youth international having earned caps at under-19 and under-21 level. Prior to playing for the senior team, he played on the under-19 team that won the 2005 UEFA European Under-19 Football Championship. Diaby made his senior international debut in March 2007 in a UEFA Euro 2008 qualifying match against Lithuania. He has also represented France at one major international tournament; the 2010 FIFA World Cup in which Diaby started all three of France’s group games but was unable to help as they were did not make it to the knock out stages.
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