To see a player only make 15 appearances for your club, only for him to leave after a matter of months is something usually met with resent or hatred from the terraces to the player on his return. If Mo Diame meets the claret and blue in his Arsenal colours in just five days time I, at least, won’t be booing him.
The grounding for true fan appreciation of any footballer should be the beads of sweat that drip, the volume of lactic acid building up in thigh muscles, the half-hidden grimace of pain when all energy and effort in expended in the causes of victory and entertainment. Mo is an example of the new central midfielder so hard to play against, less box-to-box and more byline-to-byline with the potential to transcend Scott Parker’s level of reverence in East London if only he stayed a while longer and played a little more.
Going forward he’ll run right at the opposition, not merely setting them on the back foot but sending them on the retreat too. An imposing figure, he is far more than the archetypal midfield bruiser, taking men on and beating them with skill before strength – though both are evident in abundance. Arsenal fans know all about this already, of course, after being on the receiving end of this earlier in the season.
But as I’ve alluded to this is just one aspect of his game, and though goals like that will act as many fans’ memories of him, mine will always be of the level of physical sacrifice he’d go to for his teammates and for the fans (this is much less pseudo-religious-cult than it sounds, Upton Park is not a hotbed of Satanic ritual torture in the name of Lucifer, we just play football and try very hard). Indeed, last season (though not a Hammer, we were busying causing mischief in the N Power league) only two players in the Premier League won more tackles than Mo did (Arsenal fans may remember a crunching tackle he put in on Arteta in October).
Arsenal will be lucky to have him. Without going all East 17 on you, West Ham fans will be disappointed if he doesn't stay in E13 longer, but I do think we can take the pain, for what he offered us in this short time was all we could ask of anyone who dons the claret and blue jersey.