It had to come sooner rather than later but, if you’re like me, you were hoping it wouldn’t be for a long time yet.

Out of contract in the summer, Abou Diaby seems like he might have played his last ever game in an Arsenal shirt.

In November Arsenal denied rumours that the midfielder, who has been crippled by injury problems after he was assaulted by Sunderland’s Dan Smith when he just arrived at Arsenal, had suffered a hamstring injury that would keep him out for three months.

He has, however, not been seen in that time and speaking to the media on Thursday Arsene Wenger was downbeat as he said

He is still injured. At the moment he is not in a position where he will be able to play soon because he is not on the field at all.

Speaking about his contract situation, the boss, who had previously stated he would give the Frenchman another contract if he could prove his fitness, added

I will have a decision to make about his contract

Wenger was also quick to stress where Diaby’s problems come from

Diaby hasn’t a mental problem but a problem of injury.

He is a player for whom I have great respect. Whenever he returns, he is injured and he goes from zero.

He was destroyed by a bad tackle.

The football player needs mobility of his ankle. When your ankle mobility is restricted, you compensate with something else.

He suffered from a very bad tackle in Sunderland six or seven years ago. He was the victim of a tackle that was never punished. It has restricted the mobility of his ankle.

If he comes back, I will keep him. I always believed in him. In football, the most important thing is health.

At this point, even I have to admit that is a very big ‘if.’

One of my greatest wishes as an Arsenal fan was to see Diaby overcome all these problems he has suffered since Smith’s reckless and completely unnecessary tackle.

Inside him lies one of the greatest midfielders we could have ever had at the club.

Instead, he is likely to be remembered as a permacrock, the details surrounding how he got that way lost in the conversation.

Diaby has played 16 league games in the last four seasons.