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Toumani Diagouraga
Position: Midfielder
From: Youth Team
Career stats: Soccerbase
He is: Non prononçable


There are some players who you look at on the team sheet and know - just know - that, no matter how hard they try, and no matter how hard they work at it, they will never have their names pronounced properly by the Watford faithful. We're still not sure how to pronounce Gravelaine, for heavens' sakes, and given the difficulties Helguson's first name caused over the years, Tommy (as I like to call him) will just need to let his football do the talking (cheques for successful inclusion of football cliché in player profile to BSaD towers, please).

Tiggy was touted as a prospect before most Watford fans had even heard of him (although if you pronounced his name properly it's not certain they'd have heard of him now), while he was still a sixteen-year old, and reports from youth and reserve games were almost invariably glowing - so glowing, in fact, that the man with the sheen to end all sheens was rumoured to be looking at taking him to Chelsea. Thankfully, Diadora signed professional terms with us in October last year having starred in the FA youth cup run, although surprisingly he appeared to have fallen behind Al Bangura (as well as Mahon, Blizzard, and Gunnarsson) at the end of last season when Bangura made the first team a couple of times.

While he's still evidently behind Bangura at the start of the 2005-2006 season, his development appears to be continuing apace, and he featured in various preseason games. Reports on his style are varied, and while this might suggest a jack-of-all-trades, master-of-none type situation, I find myself looking back to how the toothsome Jamie Hand was reported on as a promising youngster and wondering if it's really so bad to be called both combative and full of delicate touches. That said, someone "so languid that he's almost liquid" does make you wonder. It seems that Diadem is more of a playmaker in the junior sides, with Bangura doing the water-carrying, and it seems certain we'll be seeing him make the first team at some point this year despite the signing of Matthew Spring. At the moment I'd guess he's fifth-choice for central midfield behind Mahon, Spring, Blizz and Bangura - but that probably still translates to quite a few first-team appearances across the season, and I think that's important, because young, talented players of all sorts run the twin risks of stagnation if they don't play enough, and getting hacked to bits and demoralised if they play too much.

Toumani (happy now?) could by all accounts develop into an exceptionally good player for the club; if there are tools missing from the box we've yet to find out what they are. I'd like to see him play some games alongside either Mahon or Spring in the first team, however, as the Second Division is still a rough, fast, physical, and demanding environment, and he can learn a great deal from people who've experienced it already. He has the potential to be a first team regular very soon, then - but how long it takes him to get a song is anyone's guess.

Nick Grundy
Last updated: September 2005