Fousseni Diabate proves that there is still real value at all levels of French football

Leicester have done it again, or at the very least it seems like they might have done it again. While all the news was swirling about Riyad Mahrez, either him being on the way out or being too depressed to play for Leicester, it was easy to miss the fact that a candidate to fill his shoes was starting to shine at the club. A player who, it was assumed, would be signed for the U23 squad, was starting to show just why Leicester’s excellent scouting department plucked him from France’s second tier to come and play in the East Midlands.

Of course, this isn’t the first time Leicester have dipped into the French market picking up both Mahrez and a certain N’Golo Kante after having seen them play in the French second tier. Mahrez was brought in from Le Havre for the still scarcely believable fee of around £450,000 while Kante was purchased from Caen, who were at the time in Ligue 1, but Leicester had been tracking him since Caen were in the second division. It made sense then for Leicester to go back as they seek to find new talent and they decided that Fousseni Diabate would worth spending around £2m and thus he joined from Gazelec Ajaccio.

It is clear that Mahrez will leave sooner rather than later, every Leicester fan knows it and most are happy to admit it. It was however a surprise though that things ramped up so quickly at the end of the winter window as he looked very close to joining Manchester City. With the movie falling through and Mahrez not training as he sorted his head out, Leicester fans wondered who might replace the Algerian while he got back on track.

Having signed Diabate, not even the most confident Leicester fan would have been able to predict how his Leicester career would start. Even those with the type of bookmaker promotions that can allow you to bet for free or to significantly improve your odds when you bet on something, wouldn’t have wagered on Diabete to have such a brilliant beginning for Leicester. He was given his first start in the FA Cup against Peterborough and scored two goals, the first coming after just 9 minutes.

This performance came just as the Mahrez story began to emerge but it seemed unlikely that Diabate’s brilliant start would be rewarded and it was a League One side that he had played well against, as opposed to a side of the quality of Everton, their next opponents. However he came on in the 58th minute and did well. Well enough that French manager Claude Puel has given him back to back Premier League starts.

He did not shine last Saturday but he was taking on Manchester City, the best side in the land. Last weekend though, against Swansea he was excellent. Pacey, direct, tricky and confident, he looks like a star in the making and could be the next French bought player to really kick on and become something special at Leicester, so make sure to keep an eye out.


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