Former France International midfielder Alou Diarra represented West Ham United between summer 2012 and summer 2014, a period that proved frustrating for both parties.
But, why didn’t things work out for the versatile Frenchman in East London like they had elsewhere? What did he go onto achieve in the twilight years of his career? And more importantly, where is he now?
Diarra was born in the suburbs of Paris in July 1981 and grew up dreaming of becoming a professional footballer, never looking for one day like he wouldn’t as he progressed through the ranks at local clubs.
After spending the back end of his youth career with them, the versatile defender/midfielder made his senior debut for Louhans-Cuiseaux in France’s lower leagues.
Before long, Diarra was attracting attention from teams in Europe’s highest league, such as Bayern Munich, who he signed for in 2000, making almost half a century of appearances for the Reserves in the following years.
The International failed to appear once in the first-team in the end, and as a result declined the offer to stay in 2002, instead hooking up with Gerard Houllier at Premier League Liverpool.
Here, the story would be very much the same for Diarra, having his spell at Anfield disrupted by three loans over three seasons to Le Havre, Bastia and Lens.
During this spell, Diarra made his debut for the French national team, with whom he would play over 40 times, appearing at the 2006 and 2010 FIFA World Cups and the 2012 European Championships, and captaining his nation on several occasions.
The arrival of Rafa Benitez on Merseyside led to Diarra’s departure and subsequent permanent move to Lens in 2005, where he would play in the UEFA Cup, though moved to giants Lyon the season after.
Though this would, once again, only last for one term as he moved to the coast of France with Bordeaux, if Diarra had gained one thing with Olympic, it was UEFA Champions League experience.
He brought this to his new team and featured plenty in the competition, also helping to guide Laurent Blanc’s men to triumph in the Coupe de la Ligue in 2008/2009.
The defensive star went on to enjoy two more successful seasons in Europe and domestically with the club, his final one, however, being tainted by an incident where he pushed a Referee and received a lengthy suspension.
At the end of that campaign, Bordeaux’s rivals Olympic Marseille came in for Diarra and he made the £5 million move, appearing over 30 times for the Ligue 1 team during the 2011/2012 campaign.
However, after seven years back in France, the defensive midfielder sought a new challenge with the newly promoted Hammers in the Premier League under Sam Allardyce.
With his powers now fading with age, he was keen to play as much football as possible in England, but this was something that he found hard to come by in Claret & Blue.
Finally making his English Top-Flight debut away at Swansea City in August 2012, injuries soon followed and after a handful of appearances, he was loaned to Rennes for the rest of the season in January 2013.
While back in his home nation, Diarra criticised West Ham and manager Allardyce, but still returned at the end of it, figuring eight times during 2013/2014, and moving onto Charlton Athletic after a few months off at the conclusion of it.
The France man was liked in South East London, spending a campaign and a half there and suffering a relegation back to League One, after which he went back to Ligue 1 one with Nancy.
Diarra spent just one season with AS and departed when his contract ran out in the summer of 2017, he has been on the lookout for a club ever since, now at the age of 36.
Nowadays, Diarra is reportedly on the verge of returning to the Valley with Charlton, who are still in the third tier, having trained with them for a few months.
Should he join, his next spell at a club will be the 15th different of a playing career that has lasted for the best part of 20 years and is still going, Alou Diarra may not be fondly remembered in East London, however, there can be no denying that he spent the better part of his admirable career elsewhere.