It can sometimes be rather difficult to see how far a club have fallen in the space of a decade, although Portsmouth fans will not need to be reminded about what can happen. In 2008, Fratton Park was bouncing following a FA Cup triumph and then hosting the likes of AC Milan in the UEFA Cup in front of a packed stadium.
Harry Redknapp had managed to assemble a rather good side that was full of quality during their time in the Premier League before he ultimately left for a struggling Tottenham Hotspur and started to see the decline on the south coast.
One man that was part of the more successful times during his spell at Fratton Park was Lassana Diarra. The former Chelsea and Arsenal man signed for a fee of £5million in the January 2008 transfer window and made an immediate impact on the team.
He helped lead Portsmouth to the FA Cup final, which helped himself to a France call up for the European Championships that season before going on to play a role in the UEFA Cup and the Premier League.
Redknapp had later described the player as “an amazing player” and one that he will “never know” he signed him before admitting he “was hard work”.
Speaking to The Portsmouth News, he said: “Diarra was an amazing player. How we got him I’ll never know.
“But he was hard work, a strong character, if he didn’t like something then he wasn’t easy to deal with.”
Recounting the £5m, Redknapp admitted that it was a “crazy” buy-out clause and stated that it was a “crazy deal” to get him for that low.
Diarra certainly showed that he could play in the Premier League and was arguably a real coup for Portsmouth at the time, however, what was really strange was to see where his career took him after leaving Fratton Park.
A move in January 2009 to Real Madrid was completed for a fee thought to be worth £20m where he spent a couple of years before heading on a rather nomadic career with spells at Anzhi Makhachkala, Lokomotiv Moscow, Marseille, Al Jazira and Paris Saint-Germain.
He recently terminated his deal with the Ligue One giants and has subsequently retired from football, despite only being 34-years-old.
The France international was a player who had bundles of ability in the middle of the park, whether he was required to get involved with defensive duties or try and help build attacks. He was called “todocampista” by Spanish TV station La Sexta (via GOAL) during his time at the Santiago Bernabeu – which to us is a ‘Jack of all trades’.
Portsmouth and Kenny Jackett could certainly use a player of that skill set now as they seek to make a return to those heights Redknapp once brought to Fratton Park.
Portsmouth fans, what did you make of Diarra during his time at the club? Join in with the discussion below by sharing your thoughts with us.
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