Back in November 2019, there were a few rumours doing the rounds that Leicester City and Newcastle United were interested in Le Mans’ Stéphane Diarra.
The 21-year-old was having a good season with the Ligue 2 side, which understandably led to reports being written of bigger clubs taking notice.
Le Mans’ president then came in and dismissed any claims of offers being made, warning off any interested parties in the process that a January move wasn’t on the cards.
Since then, the winger has joined newly promoted Ligue 1 side FC Lorient for a small fee of £2.25m, and in the process of an interview with Ouest-France about his arrival, revealed he did hold talks with both the Magpies and the Foxes.
He said: “Many clubs contacted me, like the English clubs of Newcastle and Leicester, but also French teams like Lille, Marseille or Monaco. The talks with Christophe Le Roux, Lorient’s director of football, and the manager Christophe Pellissier were key in my decision.
“I knew they were a quality team that played football and I needed a team that played and performed. It was important for me to stay in France. Since I was little, I’ve dreamed of discovering Ligue 1, and it was important for me not to skip steps. I’m here to learn. I want to stay in Ligue 1, develop and we’ll see after that”.
Diarra therefore turned down the chances of moving to St James’ Park or the King Power Stadium in favour of a more familiar environment, signing a five-year deal in the process.
While there’s no doubt Newcastle and Leicester could have offered him a better financial package, it’s sometimes refreshing to see players following a logical career path rather than jumping on the biggest paycheque at the first opportunity.