Former Cardiff City striker Nathan Blake has come out with some quite incredible comments in his weekly column for WalesOnline, claiming that Neil Warnock should break the bank to sign Newcastle midfielder Mohamed Diame in January – believing he is the one player that could inspire Cardiff to automatic promotion this season.
Blake compares him to Spurs’ Rolls-Royce of a midfielder Mousa Dembele, claims he was the driving force of our promotion season last year and a player that can mix it ‘with the best of them’. Some crazy comments considering his NUFC form.
Not only has Diame struggled to take his chance in his odd appearance in the Premier League this season, he looked a shadow of his former self even in the Championship last year, with just 3 goals and 3 assists from the number 10 role in 37 league appearances.
Diame was an explosive central midfielder in his day with Wigan and West Ham, but at 30, the former Senegalese international looks to be on the way out, making Blake’s claims all the more strange.
Here’s what Blake wrote in WalesOnline today:
“Cardiff don’t need much, they really don’t. What they do require is something a little unique, someone with that extra quality who can make the difference between the top two and the top six at the end of the season.
“The person who fits that bill for me is Mohamed Diame, who spends far too much of his time at the moment sitting on the bench up at Newcastle United and who must be itching to play regularly in a successful side.
“Diame, for me, is everything the Bluebirds need for the final push under Warnock. Strong, powerful, athletic, experienced and with the know-how of what’s required to go up from the Championship.
“He was a kingpin for Newcastle when they won the title last season, but his game time has been far more limited in the Premier League under Rafa Benitez.”
Don’t get me wrong, I was once a fan of Mo Diame in his ‘heyday’, but Blake describing him as a ‘kingpin’ in our promotion campaign – defined as ‘a person or thing that is essential to the success of an organization or operation’ – is quite laughable really.
If you’d have asked any fan what our weaknesses were in our Championship title winning team, most fans would have pointed you to the number 10 role – a position Diame and Perez both struggled to make their own.
“In fact, Diame has only started one league game this season and that’s a waste of a player of his undoubted ability.
“He ticks all the boxes for me. He could play as the holding midfielder instead of Gunnarsson; he could play next to Gunnarsson, with the energy to go box-to-box. Or he could play ahead of Gunnarsson, in the more creative number ten role. He could fulfil any of those functions with equal aplomb. That’s what I mean by the kind of unique quality Warnock needs to look at.”
“Make no mistake Diame is a Warnock type of player, too. Leggy, physical, has stature, can be bossy on the pitch
“Just as Gunnarsson is known as a robust tackler whose creativity is vastly under-rated, so Diame is seen as someone with more to his game going forward — but I wouldn’t fancy coming up against him in a challenge. He can crunch with the best of them, trust me.
“Perhaps the best analogy would be with Moussa Dembele of Spurs, who is also athletic and powerful, goes box-to-box, but has the vision for a defence splitting pass. The vision, but also the ability for the execution of that pass.
Another section that has so much to pick fault with unfortunately for us and him.
His legs appear to have gone that once enabled him to be a ‘box-to-box’ midfielder, and I also imagine a few spat out their afternoon cuppa when they saw the Mousa Dembele comparison.
It’s a shame really. I thought Diame might have given us some of these traits Blake mentioned when we signed him from Hull last summer, but his performances in black and white since then have done nothing to suggest he still ‘has it’.
“Diame’s wages, of course, may be an issue for the Cardiff hierarchy. But it’s that touch of quality, not quantity, that Warnock needs in January. Cardiff already have the numbers.
“If Warnock’s Bluebirds are still in the top three come the turn of the year, Diame has the ability to push them into the top two. His influence could be that significant.
“I’ve no doubt other clubs are also monitoring Diame’s situation due his lack of action up on Tyneside. But he’s the player I feel Cardiff should swoop for, on loan if necessary.
“Even if they pay a full transfer fee, Diame would be good enough to justify that by a) helping Cardiff go up and b) being good enough to play for them in the Premier League next season anyway.
“The manager has done an excellent job getting the balance of the squad right, it’s just about supplementing it with the final piece of the jugsaw.
“Diame has played under Benitez, Steve Bruce at Hull, Roberto Martinez with Wigan and I’m sure he’d relish the prospect of also linking up with Warnock.
“He may cost, his wages certainly would. But Diame will also be wanting regular football at this stage of his career — and he would be worth his weight in gold if he were to drive the Bluebirds over the promotion line.”
Prior to his spell at Newcastle, Diame did prove his worth at Hull, with his 10 goal and 4 assists from midfield playing a huge part in their promotion to the Premier League (not forgetting that stunning strike to win them the play-off final), but it seems quite short sighted of Blake to still believe this.
Diame is now 30 and has looked off the pace during the vast majority of his time at NUFC. Blake’s enthusiasm for him is admirable, but he doesn’t seem to have tagged onto the fact that he’s no longer the explosive and dynamic player he once was.