In June last year, Newcastle United confirmed that Mo Diame had been released by the club after failing to be handed a new contract.
He wanted a two-year deal and the club were only prepared to extend his deal by another 12 months, meaning he walked away a free agent and went on to sign for Qatari side Al-Ahli a few weeks later.
This may be an unpopular opinion and something a few Newcastle United fans would not agree with, but I think we’re missing him.
He had his limitations and is by no means a player who’d start every week if everyone was fit, however one thing is very evident when Isaac Hayden isn’t fit or named in Steve Bruce’s side – we barely lay a glove on opposition midfield’s and have so few tacklers!
He got in people’s faces and unsettled teams, with no players making more tackles or interceptions in the Premier League across 2018:
During Diame’s two years on Tyneside we were in the top six for tackles each season, yet only six Premier League sides make less tackles per game than Steve Bruce’s Newcastle United.
For more context, Diame made 89 tackles across 2017/18 – yet our top tackler this season is Miguel Almiron on just 16, highlighting just how little we’re getting into teams from the middle of the park at present.
Diame is getting on now and may not be the player he once was, but letting him go AND failing to replace him with someone of that ilk is a under the radar mistake we’ve made, for me.
To clarify, we wouldn’t be a totally different team with Diame in and around the squad, but I feel the power and presence he brought to our engine room is something we’re yet to replace.
Take away Hayden’s combative style and crunching tackles and there’s not a midfielder in our ranks who is dominant off the ball and able to win back the ball, highlighting one of the key areas we must improve in when the transfer window reopens in January.
Steve Bruce actually worked with the Senegalese international at Hull City, but arrived at St James’ Park just a few weeks after Diame packed his bags and signed for Al-Ahli.
Don’t get me wrong, he would’ve stayed as a squad player if he’d stuck around under Steve Bruce, but he imposed himself on games MUCH more than Hendrick does.
Ideally, we’d have replaced him with a younger box-to-box powerhouse – which perhaps explains our failed attempt to sign Lille star Boubakary Soumare – but we have done anything but ever since he left for Qatar.
Essentially, I just feel we let go of a player we could really do with right now, with very few of our midfield options able to offer what Mo Diame brought to the table.