When it was reported last month that Youssouf Diarra would be joining CD Basconia there was a lot of debate among fans of whether or net he met Athletic’s Basque-only policy. The attacking midfielder was born in Mali and moved to Catalonia at age 8 before eventually joining a Pamplona-based academy at 17. Some believe that he didn’t spend enough time in a Basque youth team to qualify, but new CD Basconia manager, Ander Alaña, has come out to defend his player.
“The kid is very good, eager, and excited. The important thing is that everyone has come with enthusiasm [to begin training] and he is just one more of those players. Everyone who is in Lezama is here because they enter the philosophy. He is one more, just like the rest. My goal is to continue working with the players and help them learn and compete. I want to help them grow so that they can take another step closer to the first team.”
The debate among fans is certainly justified in the fact that Athletic currently has no stipulation on how long a player must compete at the youth level to be considered as someone who has been formed in the Basque Country. Unless a time requirement is added, players like Diarra will qualify no matter how little time they are in the Basque Country. For now, he does technically meet the requirements and has officially joined CF Basconia in preseason training.
Diarra is a very talented attacking midfielder who has great technical ability and an eye for goal. While playing for Ardoi in Pamplona, a representative of Iñaki Williams referred Diarra to Txantrea, which is a club that partners with Athletic to develop young players. Last year the midfielder played in 33 games for Txantrea, scoring 15 goals. He will bring a new dimension to the CD Basconia team and give manager Ander Alaña another dangerous option this season.