LOS ANGELES CA - AUGUST 05: Real Madrid players (L-R) Alvaro Arbeloa #2 Mahamadou Diarra #6 goalkeeper Iker Casillas #1 Ezequiel Marcelo Garay #19 Gonzalo Higuain #20 Alvaro Arbeloa #2 and Esteban Granero #24 pose for a photograph with local youth soccer players participating in the Adidas training on August 5 2010 in Westwood section of Los Angeles California. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images for Adidas)
In an exclusive interview with the official Fulham website, fulhamfc.com, new signing Mahamdou Diarra has broken his silence on his move and has already suggested that he has plans to stay on beyond his initial six month deal, impressing Martin Jol in the process.
Diarra officially signed for Fulham on Monday morning, although rumours were abound the night before that a move was imminent. The midfielder, formerly of Lyon and Real Madrid, is a formidable character in world football and is renowned for his robust stature, tough tackling and general knowledge and anticipation for the game.
He was, until injury beset him, an important member of a Real Madrid side that won two La Liga titles, impressing under both Fabio Capello and Bernd Schuster. Previously, he partnered Michael Essien in a Lyon midfield which proved to be the strongest in French football.
Following a spell at Monaco, however, the Mali international became a free agent and despite a significant break from football, Jol still saw an inherent talent in the thirty year old. Fitness allowing, we could well see him in the Fulham line up in the coming weeks after he began training at Motspur Park about a week ago.
With only seven days to take in his surroundings, though, Diarra has still seen enough in Fulham to state his intentions for the near future.
"It has been a great pleasure to be here with the team for about a week now," he told the official site. "I loved my first week of training here. It went really well and everyone was smiling and welcomed me with open arms.
"I really felt welcomed at my new Club. There is a feeling that people are happy for me to be here and I am certainly happy to have signed for Fulham.
"I consider the 12 remaining matches as 12 finals for me," Diarra said. "It's up to me now to prove that I can do well and satisfy the team with good performances on the pitch. I have seen the team play and I am aware of how the players play and I find myself amongst a good and talented group.
"For me, this is going to be a big challenge and an enormous adventure."
Clearly, Diarra certainly sees Fulham in a favourable light, but he outlined Jol's philosophy and the club's palpable ambition as the key factor in agreeing a deal in South West London.
"Fulham is open to players who like to play football, who give their best and who have a winning mentality. The Club is ambitious and that was made clear to me by the hierarchy here. By speaking to the Manager it is also clear that he wants the team to progress and move in the right direction and this made me want to sign straight away."