x

Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 16 December 2018

Al Jazira sign former Chelsea, Arsenal and Real Madrid midfielder Lassana Diarra

UAE champions add experienced Frenchman to fellow new recruits Ahmed Khalil and Sardor Rashidov.

France midfielder Lassana Diarra has signed for Arabian Gulf League champions Al Jazira. Adrian Dennis / AFP
France midfielder Lassana Diarra has signed for Arabian Gulf League champions Al Jazira. Adrian Dennis / AFP

Al Jazira’s summer recruitment continued at pace late on Monday, with the UAE champions confirming the signing of former Real Madrid midfielder Lassana Diarra.

The Abu Dhabi club, who last season won their first top-flight title in six years, have recruited the Frenchman on a free transfer. The deal has been expected for some time.

In moving to Jazira, Diarra joins fellow new signings Ahmed Khalil and Sardor Rashidov, whose transfers were announced earlier this week. UAE striker Khalil joins from Shabab Al Ahli Dubai Club, while Uzbek forward Rashidov spent the past two years in Qatar with El Jaish. Both were also free agents.

Diarra, 32, will seek to strengthen Henk ten Cate’s midfield, with South Korea’s Park Jong-woo having been allowed to leave. Emirates club seem his most likely destination.

Having previously represented Chelsea, Arsenal and Marseille among others, Diarra brings a wealth of experience to Jazira. He spent four years in the Premier League from 2005, first for Chelsea before making the move across London. Following only five months at Arsenal, he played for Portsmouth for one calendar year, winning the FA Cup and earning a call-up to the France national team for the 2008 European Championship.

Diarra spent three and a half years at Madrid and was part of the side that won the 2011 Copa Del Rey and the 2011/12 Primera Liga. Since leaving the Bernabeu, he has played in Russia with Anzhi Makhachkala and Lokomotiv Moscow – he relationship with the latter ended in acrimony – and most recently Marseille. Diarra was released in February and convinced to join Jazira two months later.

With three new signings announced, Jazira are expected to confirm their final foreign player in the coming days. Brazilian Romarinho, the former Corinthians forward who played alongside Rashidov at El Jaish, is widely tipped to join. Mbark Boussoufa, the Moroccan playmaker, has been retained from last season.

Jazira are currently at a training camp in the Netherlands having departed the UAE on Monday morning.