Ask any Newcastle fan which of Rafa Benitez’ signings should be able to also do it in the Premier League if promotion is achieved – top of the list would surely be Matt Ritchie.
Not far behind him though should be Mohamed Diame.
Seven years in English football have all been spent in the Premier League, apart from last season when he was arguably Hull’s best player, scoring 10 goals from midfield as they bounced back into the top tier.
For Newcastle so far he has looked the real deal, at times.
In other games though, Mohamed Diame appears to go missing.
I remember reading the comments from Hull City fans when Newcastle matched the midfielder’s buyout clause.
Some were just plain bitter but the thread that generally ran through them was that Diame was an excellent player, when he turns up.
Maybe the reality is that when you are in the Championship you are never going to get the full package, it is always going to be damaged goods to at least a certain extent. With maybe Matt Ritchie looking the exception to that rule.
Obviously Rafa Benitez has plenty of players to choose from but in reality there isn’t much to choose between most of them for the various positions.
However, apart from Ritchie, Mohamed Diame is one of the very few who can also run with the ball and beat his man, so I think it is vital that Rafa finds a way to get the best out of him.
Maybe he hasn’t been helped by the slightly negative tactics that have seen Diame often used behind Dwight Gayle as an attacking midfielder/second striker, meaning lack of numbers in attacking positions means it is easier for defenders to snuff both Gayle and Diame out of the game.
I think playing two attacking players and Mohamed Diame is the way to go, with of course Matt Ritchie in the mix as well.
Mohamed Diame should be the second name on Rafa’s teamsheet and here’s hoping he starts showing why, on a regular basis.
Mohamed Diame talking to the Chronicle ahead of the Villa match:
“It (hitting bar v Wolves with a chip) was unlucky but that is the way to score more goals – I need to try more things like that.
“It didn’t come off against Wolves but hopefully it can happen on Saturday and I’m saving myself for then.
“I am getting there slowly, things always come eventually – if you work hard.
“I need to keep working hard and all the other stuff will come, I’m confident about this.
“The team is in a good way and will have a good game with Aston Villa.”