Diouf Leeds UnitedToday’s Yorkshire Evening Post leads with Brian McDermott’s plans to clear-out players as he attempts to put the final touches to his Leeds United squad. 

McDermott’s long-awaited fourth signing is a deal ready to be completed, the Leeds United manager told press at his pre-Sheffield Wednesday conference today, but it’s a deal which hinges on players leaving the club.

To facilitate the transfer, McDermott has stepped-up his campaign to reduce the club’s wage bill, opening up the market for bids on El-Hadji Diouf, the YEP claims.

With the possibility of Diouf leaving Elland Road before the transfer window closes, it’s worth reflecting on the unlikeliest of Neil Warnock signings and the impact he’s had on the club since his arrival.

January 2011, back when Warnock was still manager of Queen’s Park Rangers and Diouf was playing for Blackburn Rovers, Warnock blasted the Senegalese international for appearing to mock an injured Jamie Mackie, describing him as “lower than a sewer rat” in his post-match interview after it was revealed Mackie had broken his leg.

That Neil Warnock was even considering the transfer of Diouf only 18 months later was incomprehensible, but speculation proved to be well-founded when on August 9th 2012, the “sewer rat” joined Leeds United on trial.

Dirty Leeds had signed one of the dirtiest players in football. The media reaction was predictable, It seemed the entire footballing world had an opinion on Diouf, very few of which concerned themselves with his ability as a footballer.

“Barndoor opening allows Sewer Rat to infest” was the headline I went with when Billy Paynter’s departure allowed Neil Warnock to hand El Hadji Diouf a one year deal on August the 13th. While I’d always recognised Diouf as a talented footballer, his transfer came just a few months after he’d instigated a brawl in the Elland Road tunnel during a visit from Doncaster Rovers. This, ironically enough, was on the day Neil Warnock first appeared at Elland Road as the new Leeds United manager.

All told, Diouf just seemed more trouble than he was worth…

Scurrying through the barndoor Paynter left untouched is former Rovers man El Hadji Diouf, one of footballs most controversial figures.

Renowned for spitting at supporters, drink driving and the occasional moment of footballing brilliance, the man Neil Warnock once labelled a “sewer rat” was booed by a section of Leeds United fans on his debut […]

It wasn’t just me, the entire Leeds United fanbase was split. When asked if they were happy with Diouf’s signing, only 48% said they were. The other 52% was split between those who were against his transfer and the undecided.

Making his Elland Road debut, the crowd reaction was a mix of fans yelling the now commonplace “Diouf” and those booing his inclusion. Few doubted Diouf’s footballing ability, but many found it difficult to overlook the controversies his career had been littered with.

But the seismic shift in public opinion happened quickly. While Warnock praised Diouf’s attitude around Thorp Arch, highlighting the support he gives to younger players, fans were praising his performances on the pitch.

By the time Brian McDermott arrived, you’d have been hard-pressed to find anyone in Leeds with a bad word to say about El Hadji Diouf. In less than 12 months, Diouf had transformed himself from a highly-controversial figure who many fans hated to see in a Leeds United shirt, to a player receiving universal praise for his intelligent play and game-changing performances.

Now available for selection again following suspension and injury, it’s fitting that Sheffield Wednesday are the first opponents he’ll face. The last time we played Wednesday was Brian McDermott’s first game as Leeds United manager and The Whites trailed 1-0 following a dismal first half. But then came El Hadji Diouf, whose second-half introduction changed the game completely, leading to a 2-1 victory for the new Leeds United boss.

The match report I wrote that day concluded with the following remarks;

…none of the players mentioned had the same impact as El-Hadji Diouf. His substitution brought with it a composure which led to everything else, he made himself available to receive passes, held the ball while people created space for themselves, ran at people to create space when he didn’t have an option – he just tied everything else together. I had my reservations, but if Neil Warnock did one thing right while he was at Elland Road, it was signing Diouf.

It’s easy to justify the sale of a 32-year old whose career is nearing an end and I’ll support whatever decision Brian McDermott makes. But if El Hadji Diouf does depart Elland Road this summer, I hope he’ll be remembered for proving so many of us wrong. His transformation from national villain to Leeds United favourite is one littered by exceptional performances that provided some great moments during an otherwise depressing season.

Mr. Sewer Rat, I salute you.

Do you think McDermott should sell El Hadji Diouf?

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12 Responses

  1. Jon Maclean

    I voted yes on the basis of wages. I cannot, and won’t dispute the impact he made for us, and I’d argue that his signing was the difference between staying up and relegation last season. In an ideal world. I’d say keep him, but in terms of talent vs wage bill, as far as I know he’s one of our highest earners and Varney right now isn’t far off him I don’t think. Keep the cheaper of the two, and bring someone fresh, fit and hopefully more able than the one we get rid of.

    If Brian deems that Dioufy, as much as we have all grown to love him, is the one that fits that bill then so be it.

    • one united

      Couldnt agree more. If B McD thinks he can improve the squad by sacrificing Diouf then I will support him.

  2. spellz

    Diouf has been a revelation in terms of what he has done for us and I will miss his hard working ethic, one of the only ones from the Warnock reign I actually was excited to watch.
    If he does go for the sake of the wage bill I don’t know if he is an asset that is replaceable at this stage, either way top man and your reputation as a sewer rat has some what extinguished since you passed the gates at ER.

    • Matthew

      I’ll be sad to see him go too. But if he can get a better deal and the kind of money he deserves elsewhere and at the same time can further his career before he retires, I wish him the best of luck, he will be missed.

  3. philyew

    There are a lot of players in the squad who should go before Diouf, but no two of them would have the same interest for other clubs, nor the same impact on the wage bill.

    If we have to accept the reality that no one new comes in until one or more exits occur, then it is a sad fact that Diouf may be the best option.

    Let’s hope the prime target can offer a prompt increase in team quality following what will be subtracted by Diouf’s departure.

  4. Matthew

    If he has to go, I wish him the best of luck and thank him for his efforts here, he’s been like a breath of fresh air and has really turned himself around.

  5. Dr Zen

    Diouf was always a very good player and a good signing for us but BMD has his own plans and wants his own players, so no biggie.

  6. Chareose

    The problem is that all this talk of selling Ross and Diouf could effect the teams focus on the pitch…….. Mowbrays comments suggest BMC is willing to listen to offers for both players………… feels like i entered a time warp today. Leeds again dont know who owns the club and we are selling our best players ………


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