This Newcastle United player is STILL good enough for the club – despite axe

“I need to wake up, because I’ve been sleeping since I got here.”

Mohamed Diame.
Mohamed Diame.

You don’t hear that kind of honesty from footballers very often, but Mohamed Diame was always open and honest during his time at Newcastle United.

Diame’s career at St James’s Park didn’t start well.

And when he sat down to speak to journalists ahead of an EFL Cup quarter-final against his former club Hull City, he didn’t hold back.

“To be honest, I’ve not played the football I have wanted to play since I’ve been here,” he said.

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Diame got better. He alternated as a No10 with Ayoze Perez in United’s Championship-winning team – and who can forget his goal against Brighton and Hove Albion?

He also some form as a conventional midfielder in the Premier League after retiring from international football with Senegal to concentrate on his club career.

The 32-year-old was, and is, a powerhouse of a midfielder on his day. Diame can tackle, run and shoot. He can disrupt teams and carry the ball upfield. He’s a physical, awkward opponent.

Off the field, he always had a smile.

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Diame, however, has seemingly played his last game for Newcastle, as his deal expires on June 30. The club yesterday published its retained list, and his name wasn’t on it.

“Mo’s been a great servant,” said manager Rafa Benitez. “He’s given us a lot on and off the pitch, and we wish him well for the future.”

Diame, an ever-present in the first half of the season, would have triggered a one-year contract extension had he not fractured a metatarsal in January.

However, he wanted to commit to the club for another two years – and the club were unwilling to offer him a longer deal.

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Speaking in March, he said: “I’ve always said I’m happy here playing for this club and these fans. But this is football – you have to deal with it.

“If I stay, I will be happy, and if I don’t stay, I will be happy somewhere else.”

Diame might be nearing the end of his career, but he still has something to offer.

And Newcastle’s loss will be another club’s gain.