On this day: Diarra signs for Pompey
Today marks the 10th anniversary Lassana Diarra signed for Pompey.
The French talent moved to Fratton Park for a fee of around £5m from Arsenal – just a day after chief executive Peter Storrie defended the Blues’ ambition after their January transfer plans were criticised by some senior players.
Diarra is regarded as one of the finest modern-day players to ever pull on the star and crescent, along with the likes of Robert Prosinecki and Paul Walsh.
After frustrating stop-start spells at Chelsea and the Gunners, the midfielder made it clear moving to Pompey was a stepping stone in his career.
But while he was on the south coast, he gave his all and it soon came apparent Swhat sort of player the Blues had at their disposal.
You began overhearing the Fratton faithful muttering words like ‘let’s make the most of him while he’s here’ and ‘we’re lucky to have him’.
The Frenchman, for his part, was committed and played a pivotal role in Pompey qualifying for Europe.
He was also fundamental in the team winning the FA Cup in 2008, his goal against Plymouth settling a tricky tie.
One thing was clear, the Blues had a superstar – and they made the most of him.
In truth, Diarra made the most of Pompey and by the end of the season he had a winner’s medal and was in the French national squad.
Having propelled the Blues into the Uefa Cup, he then scored the club’s first-ever goal in a major European competition against Vitória Guimaraes.
It, therefore, surprised few when the footballing superpower of Real Madrid came calling.
At just under £19m, Pompey netted a tidy profit and consoled themselves with the knowledge they helped Diarra on his inevitable route to the top.
For sheer ability, he will go down as one of the Blues’ finest.