Arsenal have announced Abou Diaby's departure from the club following the expiration of his contract at the Emirates Stadium.

Central midfielder Diaby joined the Gunners from Auxerre in January 2006, but has seen his time in English football plagued by a variety of persistent injury issues that limited the 29 year old to just 97 Premier League starts over almost a decade of service.

With Arsene Wenger obviously retaining a belief in the former France international's abilities, the Telegraph reported in April that Arsenal would consider negotiating a 'pay-as-you play' deal that would allow him to remain training with the club beyond the end of his previous contract.

That does not appear to have happened, however, with confirmation of Diaby's exit, along with four youth team players, coming on 1 July.


"Abou Diaby, together with academy players Jack Jebb, Austin Lipman, Brandon Ormonde-Ottewill and Josh Vickers, are leaving Arsenal, having reached the end of their contracts," Arsenal said on their official website, with no reference to out-of-contract captain Mikel Arteta.

"Diaby leaves the club after 10 years in which he made 180 first-team appearances, scoring 19 goals. A hugely talented midfielder, unfortunately his time at the club was interrupted by a number of serious injuries. Diaby has also represented France on 16 occasions."

The club added: "Arsenal would like to take this opportunity to thank Abou, Jack, Austin, Brandon and Josh for their contribution to the club and to wish them well for the future."

Among the myriad of injury problems sustained by Diaby since joining Arsenal, arguably the worst came in 2006 when a tackle from then Sunderland defender Dan Smith resulted in the player sustaining a badly fractured ankle.

It is an incident that clearly still wrangles Wenger, who told The Independent in January: "He [Diaby] is a player that I have an enormous amount of respect for.

"Every time he comes back, he has to start from zero with another injury. He was a victim of competition. A footballer needs his ankle. He was destroyed by a bad tackle at Sunderland six or seven years ago which altered his ankle.

"He is not a fragile player. He was the victim of an assassin's tackle that went unpunished."

In an interview with SoFoot published in November 2014, Smith, who did offer his apologies, insisted that the challenge was made without any malicious intent and pointed to the fact that he was not shown a red card by referee Dermot Gallagher as evidence that it was merely mistimed.

Diaby appeared just once during his final season at Arsenal, a 66-minute outing during the 2-1 Capital One Cup third-round defeat to Southampton in September.

He was an unused substitute for the victory over Aston Villa in the previous round, however a calf problem precluded any further involvement as Wenger's side went on to retain the FA Cup and finish third in the league, behind champions Chelsea and Manchester City.