Abou Diaby admits he “felt privileged” to be on the same pitch as Lionel Messi last season after the Argentine’s magnificent performance for Barcelona against Arsenal. However, the Frenchman refuses to solely focus on Messi due to the abundance of talent Barca have around him.
The 23-year-old FIFAWorld Player of the Year scored four goals in the Champions League second leg fixture between the two clubs last year, with Gunners boss Arsene Wenger comparing him to a ‘Playstation player’ after the 4-1 defeat.
“Despite losing the first leg, we know that Barca is a team of great effectiveness, both individually and as a team,” Diaby told Sport.es
“I remember it was a great game [last season’s match at the Nou Camp] and I felt privileged to participate in it. We know Messi is a great player who can change a game at any moment, but we do not want to focus only on him. We can’t just deal with Messi because of the great players around him.”
Diaby, who is rumoured to start tomorrow’s game due to Alex Song’s injury, also gave his opinion on Cesc Fabregas’ future at the Emirates Stadium, admitting that he is the “engine” of the Arsenal side. Fabregas is understandably the centre of the attention given the fact that the Barca academy graduate told Wenger he wanted to join his former team in the summer, only to see two offers rejected by the Gunners.
“I know there is interest from Barca, but we’d love him to stay with us because he is the captain and the engine of the team.”
Frontman Robin van Persie faces a fitness test tomorrow morning where he will find out whether he can play in tomorrow’s game. The Dutchman surprisingly travelled with the squad to Spain earlier despite being ruled out for “3 to 4 weeks” by Arsene Wenger.
Alex Song misses out through injury while fellow midfielders Cesc Fabregas and Jack Wilshere have been passed fit.