Arsene Wenger has stated that he is planning to turn Abou Diaby into a defensive midfielder for Arsenal.
The 28-year-old made his latest return from the treatment table in the Capital One Cup tie against Southampton in midweek, playing 60 minutes in a relatively unusual deeper role and managing to impress, considering his lack of fitness.
And Wenger has revealed that with Arsenal having a plethora of midfielders for the attacking roles, Diaby would be asked to work in a holding role from now on, which the manager feels would be an interesting challenge for the player too.
"I try to transform him because he was injured and has the physical potential to win the challenges, to face the game will be easier for him than to play back to goal with the injuries he had," ESPN quoted Wenger as saying.
"I try to develop him in a deeper role. I think he can do it, he can be very interesting, has all the attributes. He must love it as well because he's more of an offensive minded player."
Arsenal failed to sign a defensive midfielder in the summer transfer window, despite being linked to a host of players, including William Carvalho and Sami Khedira. And now, Wenger only has the ageing and slow duo of Mikel Arteta and Mathieu Flamini in his ranks for the role.
Wenger has also played down concerns regarding Diaby's fitness, pointing out that the Frenchman had only played one U-21 match prior to his return to competitive action.
"It was difficult for him [against Southampton]," Wenger pointed out. "But he got 60 minutes, he was not injured and at some stage he has to play. He had 90 minutes at Villa last week, played 60 minutes [on Tuesday], was not bad, was acceptable as a performance, but he tired after an hour."