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Patrick Vieira names the 'complete' player who could have been even better than him and Arsene Wenger agrees

Patrick Vieira names the 'complete' player who could have been even better than him and Arsene Wenger agrees

Arsene Wenger said he was "the closest to Patrick Vieira we have seen" at Arsenal.

Arsenal legend Patrick Vieira has opened up on the player he believes could have gone on to great things had it not been for injuries.

Regarded by many as one of Arsenal's greatest ever players, Vieira lifted three Premier League titles and four FA Cups during a memorable nine-year stay.

He ended up making over 350 appearances for the North London club, who struggled to replace such an influential figure after joining Juventus in 2005.

That being said, Arsenal appeared to strike gold six months later, when they signed Abou Diaby from Ligue 1 side Auxerre for a reported £2 million.

Diaby, a powerful box-to-box midfielder capable of dictating games with his offensive and defensive attributes, was certainly in the same mould as Vieira.

As well as sweeping up defensively, the Frenchman would be a real attacking threat.

Sadly though, we never got to see Diably on a regular basis.

Diaby suffered 42 serious injuries during his time as an Arsenal player, including damage to his ACL ligament, five thigh muscle strains and 11 calf strains – not to mention two sprained ankles, three hamstring injuries and a concussion.

In total, he spent 3,339 days at Arsenal and spent 1,554 days [46.5 per cent] of that time on the sidelines.

Ultimately, injuries prevented him from fulfilling his talent – and Vieira knows that.

Speaking on the latest Stick To Football podcast, brought to you by Sky Bet, the World Cup winner said Diaby could have surpassed his achievements in football if he'd stayed injury-free.

“I used to like Diaby at Arsenal," he said. "I think he was going to be an even better player because he was more complete, more technical.

“I think he was more offensive, he had more quality in the last 30 yards.

"The injuries he had really stopped his progression but Diaby was a really good one.”

Image credit: Getty
Image credit: Getty

Diaby spent nine years in North London before joining Marseille in 2015. He made just 124 Premier League appearances in that time.

Arsene Wenger was devastated when he left. “It’s one of the saddest moments for us at Arsenal not to have had the opportunity to get the best out of Abou Diaby because of injury,” he told Arsenal's official website.

“I’m very sad because this boy is a massive and a huge talent. It’s sad as well because he didn’t deserve what he got. It’s sad as well because he’s a very serious player.

“He was always at home every night, prepared well every day and was not rewarded. I hope he will be rewarded somewhere else in the final years of his career."

Wenger added: “He was the closest to Patrick Vieira we have seen here, with even a good offensive potential. In France, he’s regarded highly because every time he played in the French national team he made a difference. It is very sad.”

Featured Image Credit: Getty Images

Topics: Patrick Vieira, Arsenal, Premier League, France