Why Stephane Diarra could be a good long-term investment for Celtic
Celtic, though, are not the only club to have been credited with an interest in the 20-year-old wide attacker, who is also on the radar of Brendan Rodgers’ Leicester City, as well as Premier League rivals Newcastle United. (L’Equipe h/t Daily Record)
Le Mans are currently reeling at the bottom in Ligue 2, placed 17th after losing 9 out of their first 14 league fixtures, but Stephane Diarra has been one of the few shining lights in what has otherwise been a lacklustre start to the campaign.
Diarra has accumulated 3 goals and 2 assists in 16 appearances for Le Mans in all competitions this term, earning rave reviews for his impressive displays despite his team’s woeful run of results in the French second-tier.
Born in Abidjan, the capital of Ivory Coast, Diarra started with footballing education at Evian Thonon but he made only six first-team appearances for his boyhood club before switching boats to join Rennes in 2016.
However, after featuring largely for the club’s ‘B’ team and failing to make a first-team breakthrough, the talented winger was farmed out on loan to Le Mans in the second-tier last summer.
The 20-year-old enjoyed plenty of game time during the 2018-19 campaign and that was enough to warrant him a permanent move to the MM Arena, despite his season-long loan spell yielding a meagre return of 3 goals in 33 appearances.
Interestingly, that gamble now seems to be paying off quite nicely for Le Mans, with Diarra already equalling his goal tally from the entirety of the previous campaign after just 14 rounds of league football this term.
To put things into perspective, Stephane Diarra is still very much in the formative years of his career as a professional footballer but he looks like a bright emerging talent and Celtic are well within their rights to consider a move for him as a long-term prospect.
The Hoops are not really crying out for reinforcements in the wide areas at the moment but Neil Lennon might have to do with some shuffling in the upcoming transfer windows, with Scott Sinclair and Jonny Hayes both out of contract at the end of the ongoing campaign.
Young wide players like Mikey Johnston and Lewis Morgan have found regular minutes hard to come by but that Lennon hasn’t been hesitant to turn to them while rotating his squad, especially during the domestic cup games and the Europa League qualifiers, is indicative of the fact that they are still very much a part of his long-term plans moving forward.
James Forrest, who recently pledged his future to the Hoops with a new long-term deal, continues to be one of the mainstays of the club’s forward line while Mohamed Elyounoussi has proven himself to be an inspired addition to the ranks since his loan move from Southampton in the summer.
However, once Elyounoussi departs after his loan deal, Celtic would need a wide player.
Diarra still has a lot of room for improvement and at 20, the Ivorian certainly looks like a player in the right age bracket for Neil Lennon, who has a reputation for transforming little-known youngsters into top-quality professionals.
Plus, Celtic have had tremendous success with some of the French recruits coming through the door at Parkhead in recent times, with Olivier Ntcham, Odsonne Edouard and Moussa Dembele all proving themselves to be massive bargains, and there is every possibility that Stephane Diarra could follow in the footsteps of his predecessors.
More Celtic News
- Why Joe Walsh could be a fantastic long-term investment for Celtic
- Why Celtic should move for Niklas Dorsch as a long-term prospect
- Why Celtic should move for Strahinja Pavlovic if Kristoffer Ajer departs
All in all, Celtic’s interest in the Ligue 2 starlet certainly strikes the right chords and this looks like a move that could pay off handsomely for the champions moving forward.