There have been many players who have both donned both the strip of Olympique de Marseille and Paris Saint-Germain Football Club. As a result, they bear the burden of being loved and hated at the same time, but those who wear both shirts with pride gain a complete appreciation of the importance of Le Classique, France’s main club football derby, in the eyes of footballing minds inside and outside of the Republic.
Lassana Diarra is a Marseille man. Not so long ago, the 32-year old Frenchman donned the strip of OM before being shipped off to Abu Dhabi’s Al-Jazira Club of the UAE Pro League, a club that surprised many at this year’s Club World Cup. But after a recent fallout with Al-Jazira, Diarra is now on the radar of Nasser Al-Khelaifi, the Qatari owner, and the word on the streets of Paris is that Diarra will be joining the Parisians on a six month deal to provide some backup for the injured Thiago Motta.
A change in the contract package due to the watchdogs at UEFA monitoring the cash flows and transfers at Le Parc des Princes (perhaps in anticipation of finally blowing the whistle on PSG for not handling the Neymar Santos Jr. deal in due time, and no, we didn’t have coffee for this either, Nasser) means that wages, working class pay amounts (think the type of pay that is generally dished out at clubs such as, say, Amiens Sporting Club or Angers Sporting Club de L’Ouest…the less rich clubs in Ligue 1, that is), will have to do for Diarra.
Then, there is the fact that since Diarra was a Marseille player, a change in attitude and character is mandatory to be placed in good standing with its demanding fans, whose animosities towards Marseille for being Marseille are enduring. It is similar to Marseille’s own fans turning on Patrice Evra this past autumn.
An acceptable amount of football mastery, an unconditional love for the shirt, respect for the fans, city, players and coaches, and a complete, committed abstention from a documented combustible personality will result in a productive six months for Diarra. According to ESPN’s Jonathan Johnson, Diarra’s leadership and expertise has won Thiago Silva’s respect and should result in a reestablishment of the expected chemistry and fluid football that the patrons of Le Parc have come to witness ever since Qatar Sports Investments started running the show.
If Ligue 1 teams were Michelin Guide starred restaurants, PSG is committed to keeping its third by all means necessary, whether they hail from rival kitchen staffs or not. The players of Paris Saint-Germain have a duty to give its supporters a delectable footballing feast comprised of two courses, two halves of skill, style, grace, visual deliciousness whose gastronomical gormandizing is celebrated and captured in an indulging wave…of smartphones. (As well as smoke bombs, flares, bare-chested capos and flags from the Colectif Ultras Paris in the Virage Auteuil end.)
The legendary city of Paris and its 23 arrondissements is where all of France’s culinary treasures can be found, anytime, anywhere. And Lassana Diarra’s job as part of the PSG kitchen staff, should the deal go through, is to provide the fans with his own take of bouillabase and ratatouille on Le Parc’s kitchen: the pitch. Hope you worked up a grande appetite worth dreaming big for, mesdames et monsieurs en Paris; your stopgap quickfix is being prepared, fresh to order, right now. Bon Appetit!