On the 13th January 2018 Leicester City completed the signing of Fousseni Diabate from Gazalec Ajaccio for a measly fee worth just £4.4 million. Very little was known about the Ligue 2 talent when he arrived at Leicester but there were suspicions that the Foxes were laying the foundations for a post-Mahrez era by bringing in a player with the potential to emulate the Algerian’s achievements in English football.
His initial arrival provoked only a handful of supporters to express their delight at his arrival, but a debut brace against Peterborough during an FA Cup 3rd round tie captured the imagination of Leicester fans and neutrals alike.
Diabate would make his Premier League debut at the start of February where he continued to impress with his confidence to dribble with the ball and take risks in the final-third.
It was too early to say a star had been born but the early signs suggested Leicester had completed an extremely shrewd piece of business.
bargain of the season, if he gets gametime in the PL
— king kong aint got shit on me (@FunkmanB) January 28, 2018
He's a baller. Going to be as good as Mahrez. Has the same body language. Need to keep the pressure off. I predicted Mahrez would be world class in his first game (argued with my son about it). Have the same feeling for Diabate.
— Calculas Zedebee (@aandfv) February 3, 2018
— Nick (@nicks_mufc) January 13, 2018
Mahrez replacement? #LFC
— Adheer (@AdheerL) January 8, 2018
Going to be worth 60 million next summer
— Louis King (@Louisking1) January 13, 2018
What a start to his lcfc journey
— tomatosaucegaming (@tomatosauce8888) January 27, 2018
Looked a really tidy player from what I’ve seen. Settled quick now be interesting to see him against premier league teams where pace will be faster.
— Stewart (@StumpmeisterUK) January 27, 2018
But the promising signs which characterised the early stages of his career at the King Power quickly subsided and Diabate now finds himself on the fringes of the first-team. The 22-year-old went on to make 14 appearances in the Premier League during the 2017/18 season, just 5 of which were made from the outset.
From those appearances Diabate managed to provide just 1 assist and a league goal still eludes him, but it must be considered that he is still adapting to his new surroundings and fighting for a place within a strong Leicester team containing talented midfielders and centre-forwards such as Demarai Gray, Jamie Vardy, Kelechi Iheanacho, Rachid Ghezzal and Marc Albrighton.
Another problem for Diabate is that it remains unclear as to where exactly he fits into the Leicester system: he is a left-winger by trade but Claude Puel is increasingly placing his trust in Demarai Gray, whilst he is lacking the physical presence to play at centre-forward.
Those supporters who expected an instant impact from Diabate were deceived by his debut performance against lower league opposition. In hindsight the tweets posted around the time of his arrival and opening fixtures for the club now look rather misguided, but with adequate time at the King Power the Mali youth international may yet flourish into a fantastic Premier League attacker.
Leicester City fans – thoughts? Let us know below!