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
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

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



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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School counsellors on mental well-being

Schools counsellors in Abu Dhabi have put a number of provisions in place to help support pupils returning to the classroom next week.

Many children will resume in-person lessons for the first time in 10 months and parents previously raised concerns about the long-term effects of distance learning.

Schools leaders and counsellors said extra support will be offered to anyone that needs it. Additionally, heads of years will be on hand to offer advice or coping mechanisms to ease any concerns.

“Anxiety this time round has really spiralled, more so than from the first lockdown at the beginning of the pandemic,” said Priya Mitchell, counsellor at The British School Al Khubairat in Abu Dhabi.

“Some have got used to being at home don’t want to go back, while others are desperate to get back.

“We have seen an increase in depressive symptoms, especially with older pupils, and self-harm is starting younger.

“It is worrying and has taught us how important it is that we prioritise mental well-being.”

Ms Mitchell said she was liaising more with heads of year so they can support and offer advice to pupils if the demand is there.

The school will also carry out mental well-being checks so they can pick up on any behavioural patterns and put interventions in place to help pupils.

At Raha International School, the well-being team has provided parents with assessment surveys to see how they can support students at home to transition back to school.

“They have created a Well-being Resource Bank that parents have access to on information on various domains of mental health for students and families,” a team member said.

“Our pastoral team have been working with students to help ease the transition and reduce anxiety that [pupils] may experience after some have been nearly a year off campus.

"Special secondary tutorial classes have also focused on preparing students for their return; going over new guidelines, expectations and daily schedules.”

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