by Lewis Ambrose

Returning for pre-season duty, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain has told Arsenal Player that it was sad to see teammate Abou Diaby leave the club.

Diaby joined Arsenal in January 2006 but, after widely documented trouble with injuries, was not awarded with a new contract this summer.

The French midfielder made 180 appearances for the Arsenal first-team, but could not add to those last season as he struggled to return from yet another setback.

“Abou’s a massive talent,” said Oxlade-Chamberlain.

“He’s one of the best midfielders I’ve seen or even played with and, for a man of his stature and to be able to do some of the things he did with the ball, it was amazing to see at times.

“Unfortunately he had a really tough time with injuries and you’ve got to feel for him because he worked so hard. I’m sure a lot of players would have given up a long time before he has. He still hasn’t and he’s still working hard to get fit.”

It is to Diary’s credit that he is still persevering where many would have given up after so many difficult years.

“A lot of players wouldn’t have been able to cope with the mental side and the disappointment of the injuries, so it just shows you what a professional he is and how much of a tough mentality he has.

“He’s a big character in our dressing room. Everyone respected him and his footballing ability that much that he was always part of the team at all times.”

The Frenchman has been told he is welcome to train at London Colney as he continues to look for fitness.

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“It’s sad to see him go but I had a chat with him yesterday and the reasons why he wanted to leave and get himself right made complete sense to me. You’ve got to wish him all the the luck with that and I hope that he can get back to his best and push on with whatever he does.

“He is one of the best players I’ve played with, you’ve just got to hope that he can stay fit.”

A fit Diaby would be an incredible sight and, if he can get fit again, I sincerely hope he finds a new club.