Former Chelsea and Real Madrid midfielder Lassana Diarra ‘joining AGL champions Al Jazira’

“I’m joining Al Jazira, champions of the UAE,” the 32-year-old midfielder told the Journal du Dimanche newspaper. Diarra quit French club Marseille in February and has been capped by France 34 times.

France midfielder Lassana Diarra, right, vies against England midfielder Dele Alli during the friendly football match at Wembley Stadium in west London on November 17, 2015. Adrian Dennis / AFP
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France international Lassana Diarra, who quit Marseille in February, has signed for Al Jazira, this season’s Arabian Gulf League champions.

“I’m joining Al Jazira, champions of the UAE,” Diarra, 32, told the Journal du Dimanche newspaper.

“I’ll prepare in the United States before doing a pre-season with the squad from June.”

Diarra, capped 34 times by France, has also played for Chelsea, Arsenal, Portsmouth and Real Madrid, as well as Anzhi Makhachkala and Lokomotiv Moscow in the Russian league.

The Paris-born midfielder insisted he remained available for France, citing the example of Andre-Pierre Gignac, who has been picked despite playing in Mexico.

“I’m joining a championship that is little seen, but if the [French] coach calls me up, I’ll come and give a hand with pleasure,” he said.

The signing shows the ambitions of Jazira, who eased to the AGL title but struggled in the Asian Champions League, with manager Henk ten Cate admitting he had to play weakened sides in the continental tournament as vital games were always looming in the domestic competition.

With such a high-profile addition to the squad, it means Ten Cate and Jazira may be taking aim at a serious tilt at the ACL next season while also attempting to defend their title.

The length of the contract is yet to be confirmed by the club, and it is still unclear whom he will be replacing in the side’s foreign contingent.

Each AGL club is allowed three foreign internationals and one with an Asian passport.

But with Morocco’s Mbark Boussoufa and Brazilian Leonardo looking assured of a place, it may be Ailton Almeida who will be forced to make way.

* Agence France-Presse

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