Vassiriki Abou Diaby (born May 11, 1986 in Paris) is a French football midfielder of Ivorian descent currently playing for Arsenal. He normally plays central midfielder but as of late has been playing on either wing for Arsenal. Diaby is commonly known by his middle name Abou.

Club career Edit

Early career Diaby was born in Paris and joined the hometown club Paris Saint-Germain at age 13 despite being a Marseille supporter, subsequently leaving the club two years later.

He joined Auxerre in 2003 and was a member of the Auxerre team that won the national U-16 championship that year. His coach at the time, Christian Henna, described him as a "very good technician, elegant, quick". He developed into a tall, powerful midfielder.

He signed as a professional at Auxerre, playing five matches in 2004–05 and five in the first half of 2005–06. His first match for Auxerre's first team came as a last-minute substitute against Rennes on August 14, 2004.

Arsenal Edit

On January 12, 2006, Diaby signed for Arsenal for a fee believed to be around £2m. Before joining the Gunners, he reportedly turned down a move to Arsenal's rivals Chelsea. He wears the number 2 shirt at Arsenal, which had been vacant since the retirement of Lee Dixon. Diaby has been touted as the replacement for former Gunners midfielder Patrick Vieira, due to his powerful, leggy style of play. He is able to play as an attacking midfielder, an athletic box-to-box midfield "schemer" or in a holding role in front of the back four.

He made his Arsenal début as a substitute in a 1–0 defeat to Everton on January 21, 2006. On April 1, Diaby came off the bench to score his first goal for Arsenal, in their 5–0 rout of Aston Villa, after being set-up by fellow Arsenal newcomer Emmanuel Adebayor. A month later however, on May 1, 2006, Diaby suffered a broken and dislocated ankle caused by a two-footed challenge by Sunderland's Dan Smith. As a result of the injury, Diaby was out for eight months, and returned to competitive action on January 9, 2007, when he came on as a substitute for Theo Walcott in Arsenal's League Cup Quarter-Final against Liverpool.

In the 2007 Carling Cup Final in Cardiff, Diaby was involved in an accidental collision with John Terry. Diaby's foot impacted with the left side of Terry's jaw, with Terry feeling the full force of the strike and ending up unconscious on the pitch for several minutes. The Chelsea captain was hospitalised but was released from hospital later that afternoon with no apparent long term injury.

He has made a rather bright start in the 2007–08 season. Arsène Wenger often played him in the left flank to improve his vision and decision making which he sometimes lacked playing at midfield. He made an early impact in the game against Derby County, playing in the place of the injured Tomáš Rosický and scoring a stunning 25-yard rising strike into the top corner for the first goal in Arsenal's 5–0 victory after side-stepping two defenders, even though he only used his right foot throughout the move.

On December 12, 2007 he scored his first ever goal in the UEFA Champions League against Steaua Bucharest, opening the scoring for Arsenal in their 2–1 win. On March 29, 2008, Diaby received his first red card for Arsenal against Bolton F.C., after a late tackle on Gretar Rafn Steinsson.

International careerEdit

Diaby has been capped 14 times for the France U-19 side, captaining the team in their successful U-19 European Championship campaign in 2005. In February 2006, he made his début with the France U-21 squad.

Diaby missed the 2006 UEFA Champions League Final against FC Barcelona, as well as the UEFA U-21 Championship 2006, in which he was expected to take part with France, due to a broken and dislocated ankle.

On March 15, 2007, he was called up to the French senior squad for their two forthcoming fixtures, making his début for France on March 24 when he came on for Florent Malouda in a Euro 2008 qualifier against Lithuania. He then gained a starting place in the following match, against Austria, playing 57 minutes, ending in a 1–0 victory for France.