Does Wenger regret ditching Diarra?

Given Arsene Wenger’s comments about wanting “a midfielder with experience who can play a tactical role”, I suspect Le Boss now regrets his haste at disposing of the player who could have filled that position with aplomb.

When Wenger signed Lassana Diarra last summer for a reported cut-price deal, it seemed to be one of the steals of the transfer window.

Here was a player who had been under-used at Ch*vski but was a regular in the France squad and despite giving us potentially one of the shortest midfields (quite unlike the days of Patrick Vieira and Manu Petit), I think he and Cesc had the talent to be one of the best partnerships in the country.

Then Mathiue Flamini decided he needed to play for a new contract and started rolling his sleeves up and Diarra only got a look-in as a sub or at right back in the Carling Cup. Not ideal.

It’s always hard to know whether quotes that appear in the newspapers are accurate or real, but given that Diarra had made it clear that he had his sights firmly on playing in the European Championships, I gave some credence to his comments about being unhappy.

I’m not sure Wenger did enough to placate Diarra, but given the indifferent form of Gilberto last season, I was disappointed that, rather than make the player see out the season, Le Boss let him move on after less than six months.

There is an argument that when Flamini started stalling on signing a new deal, Wenger could have played hardball and put the more talented Diarra in his place.

Understandably, given the way the team was playing, it might have been foolhardy to do that, but with only a few months' worth of good performances behind him instead of a full season, it would have been interesting to see how Flamini had reacted and it would certainly have affected which clubs were interested in him and what they would be prepared to pay him.

Ironically, Diarra made only four more appearances for Portsmouth last season than he did for Arsenal, and of course, he didn’t even play a minute at Euro2008.

He could argue that he ended up winning the FA Cup and that the majority of his Pompey performances were in the starting line-up rather than coming off the bench.

But I wonder if he now regrets not waiting for the summer, when the departure of Flamini left a Diarra-sized gap waiting to be filled.