We thought Mohamed Diame was a revelation for Newcastle in the second half of last season when he played alongside Jonjo Shelvey and we looked solid in central midfield.
Late last year Rafa switched Mo to the holding midfield position, and he held that starting position for the rest of the season and put in some terrific performances for the side.
It’s the best we have ever seen Diame play although he was excellent when he was at West Ham earlier in his career.
It certainly seems like the former Senegal International giving up International football has helped him, and he is now concentrating only on playing for Newcastle.
Newcastle have a very tough opening to the season, and we play five top six sides in our first 8 games.
Mo Diame – training in Ireland
Mo has been interviewed on nufcTV, and he has talked about the upcoming season:
“All the players need to just focus on getting fit as soon as possible and of course we are working tactically as well.”
“We know the manager is crazy with the tactics so we’re working hard on that point. It’s important everyone gets fit as soon as possible.”
“As we know the start of the season is going to be tough and difficult for us.”
“I would give the team a 10/10 (last season) because the target was to stay up and we did more than that so it was a brilliant season.”
“For myself I will say a 6/10 or 7/10 because I started slowly and not in the way I wanted to start but I finished well and now I want to continue with that.”
“I felt very good at the end of the season.” “It was a target for myself because I know that in the Championship I did not play as I wanted to play.”
“I had a target to start last season well. I wasn’t in the plans of the gaffer for the starting eleven at the start of the season but I kept working to win my place in the starting eleven.”
“I need to keep working hard to stay in the eleven. But I feel I’m in a good position.”
Mo signed on for us in the summer two years ago from newly promoted Hull City for his release clause of about £4.5M.
He had a mediocre first season down below, but in the last six months of last season, he looked one of our very best players.
Mo signed a three-year deal two years ago, so his contract runs out next summer and we are hoping he will get a new contract before then.
Mo will have a challenge on his hands for the holding position next season from new signing Sung-yueng.
The South Korea captain partnered Shelvey while both were at Swansea in the 2014-2015 season and they played well together when Swansea finished 8th in the Premier League.
But more competition for places at Newcastle is only a good thing for the team.