The Senegalese defender joins with a wealth of top-level experience in European football.

Chennaiyin FC have been one of the busier clubs this season. The two-time champions appointed Thomas Brdaric as head coach while also getting players such as Vincy Barreto, Alexander Romario Jesuraj, Mohammed Rafique, Jiteshwor Singh and Sourav Das among others. Their activity so far this season has added experience and youthful exuberance to the squad. With the new coach and the possibility of returning to the Marina Arena, the excitement levels have indeed increased in the Blues camp. To add to the same, the club recently announced the signing of Fallou Diagne.

The 32-year-old Senegalese is a great addition to the Marina Machans defensive ranks. He brings experience, leadership and sturdiness to their defence. Diagne replaces Slavko Damjanovic in defence, who was one of the few bright spots in a lacklustre season for Chennaiyin FC. Therefore, the former Rennes defender has big boots to fill.

Prior experience

Fallou Diagne will play his 15th season in professional football when he laces up for the Marina Machans. He possesses a wealth of experience having spent most of his career in the French and German domestic leagues.

He spent most of his time at his parent club FC Metz in France and Freiburg in the Bundesliga. Diagne is a product of the Metz youth academy and made more than 100 appearances for them across two spells. The Senegalese then spent four seasons at SC Freiburg. Fallou led his side to fifth place in the Bundesliga in 2012-13.

Fallou Diagne
Diagne won the Albania Cup at Vllannia Shkoder under Thomas Brdaric (Courtesy: Instagram/@fallou_diagneofficiel)

As a result, he featured in the 2013-14 UEFA Europa League making three appearances in the group stage for the Breisgau-Brasilianer.

He has since endured a journeyman career featuring for clubs like Werder Bremen, Rennais, with another loan spell at parent club Metz. Diagne then moved to Konyaspor in the Turkish Super Lig. He featured 19 times across two seasons for the club as they finished eighth and 13th in the league.

He finally moved to Albanian club Vllaznia Shkoder where he worked with current Chennaiyin FC coach Thomas Brdaric. Diagne was an important part of Brdaric’s side that won the Albanian Cup last season.

Fallou Diagne also won three caps for the Senegalese national side. He played alongside skipper Kalidou Koulibaly and Sadio Mane in an AFCON qualifier against Namibia. Overall, Diagne has made more than 270 professional appearances and has the experience of playing in the top leagues against the top players in the world.

Type of player

Fallou Diagne
The 32-year-old has also represented Senegal national team on three occasions (Courtesy: Instagram/@fallou_diagneofficiel)

Diagne is a versatile defender. He primarily plays as a centre-back, but can also play as a right-back or as a defensive midfielder. Standing at a height of 185 cm (6′ 1″) and weighing 75 kg, Diagne has the perfect fit for a centre-back. He is aerially capable and will bring strength and sturdiness to the Marina Machans backline.

Fallous Diagne is also capable with the ball at his feet. He completes around 76% of his passes which would be slightly lower than what Slavko Damjanovic managed last season.

He also likes to contribute to the play from deep and is capable of building play with short passes and driving his team forward with longer ones. Fallou’s physicality will also help Chennaiyin FC with set pieces. It was an area where Chennaiyin FC were poor last season.

What does he bring to the team?

Fallou Diagne
Fallou Diagne played for FC Metz and Stade Rennais in Ligue 1 (Courtesy: Instagram/@fallou_diagneofficiel)

Thomas Brdaric spoke in glowing terms when asked about his new centre-back. “Diagne is a very experienced player who should stabilize and lead the defense. He radiates a calmness on the ball and is also an absolute role model in terms of discipline and diligence. He will acclimate quickly and be an important part of the team,” said the German coach after Diagne put pen to paper.

The 32-year-old is Chennaiyin FC’s first foreign signing and brings a wealth of experience to the side. It also helps that he played under Brdaric the last season and tasted success as well.

This plays perfectly to Chennaiyin FC’s advantage as the coach will know how to get the best out of Diagne. Diagne’s physicality, his awareness on and off-the-ball as well as his leadership will be a great addition to Chennaiyin FC.

Diagne is also a leader and mentioned that his desire is to help Chennaiyin FC win titles. This winning mentality is sure to reflect in his performance and will boost the morale and motivate others around him to perform better. It is a breath of fresh air for a club that has seemed bereft of ambition in the last two seasons.

Diagne will mostly operate as a centre-back. He along with new defensive recruit Vafa Hakhamaneshi and Sajid Dhot could lead the defence for Brdaric’s side. His exploits at the club level and his capabilities forecast a good future for the two-time champions in defence and if he hits the ground running, then he would take no time in becoming a fan favourite at the Marina Arena.

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