Many fans in English football were shocked when Mohamed Diame left newly promoted Hull City to come to the just relegated Newcastle United three years ago.
However, most Newcastle fans were not among them. It made perfect sense to us for the Senegalese international to join Rafa Benitez and his budding revolution.
Even if it was in the Championship – such is the pull of not only Benitez but of Newcastle United Football Club.
Mo Diame joined Newcastle on August 3, 2016.
It was quite a significant transfer for the club as the Senegalese international would provide invaluable experience having just gained promotion with Hull.
He was also expected to make an instant impact for the rebuilt Newcastle squad.
While Diame did play 37 times in the Championship, we found his form to be very inconsistent. He never really found a role that suited him.
While promotion that was achieved and Diame’s experience no doubt was helpful, we expected him to be more of a fringe player in the club’s return to the Premier League.
Mo Diame – will leave on a free in the summer when his contract runs out
That all changed early into Newcastle’s return to top flight football. Playing a more defensive role, Diame finally found his niche in the Newcastle squad.
He became an indispensable cog in the midfield partnering perfectly with Jonjo Shelvey.
There were times he seemed to be channeling N’Golo Kante. Diame’s excellent play was one of the big reasons Newcastle were able to pull away in the second half of the season.
He has been unable to recapture the same form this season though. While starting all of Newcastle’s first 21 games, he failed to have the same impact on the team. Eventually, he ended up losing his place after an injury in early January.
That injury paved the way for the emergence of both Sean Longstaff and Isaac Hayden. Both of these young players kept their places until a knee injury to Longstaff brought an end to the promising midfield pairing.
With Hayden retaining the more defensive role in midfield, Diame has never found his way back into the squad on a consistent basis. He has managed only two starts in seven appearances since returning in February.
Diame will turn 32 next month when his contract will expire. It looks increasingly likely Diame will not get a new contract at Newcastle. He would probably want a 3-year deal and that investment may be better spent elsewhere.
While Diame has had his moments at NUFC, it is looking like this Sunday’s final game of the season will be his last at Newcastle.