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.
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.
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 6-3 Quarter-Final win 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 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 with a 25-yard strike.
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.
After the departure of Mathieu Flamini to AC Milan, Diaby is expected to compete with Denilson and Alexandre Song for a place partnering Cesc Fabregas in central midfield, but the start of the 2008-09 season has seen him left on the sidelines through injury.
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.
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