Bafodé Diakité's winning changes | OneFootball

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Ligue 1 Uber Eats

·26 September 2022

Bafodé Diakité's winning changes

Article image:Bafodé Diakité's winning changes

At 21, France U21 stopper Bafodé Diakite is back in Ligue 1 Uber Eats - almost four years after his precocious debut - and enjoying great success at LOSC. Thanks in particular to a brand of versatility that has made him invaluable to club coach Paulo Fonseca.

After a two-years absence, LOSC defender Bafodé Diakité makes his return to the French U21 team and hopes to get his first cap against Belgium, Monday in a friendly match in Valenciennes (21:10). The newly minted Lille resident was benched for his first appearance in 2020 and stayed on the bench during the 1-0 win in Germany on Friday. Taking on the action

The 21-year-old defender has made a number of changes this season. Born in Toulouse and a product of the TFC's youth academy, he left his club - where he had taken his first steps in December 2018, a month before turning 18 - at the beginning of August, a few days before the resumption of Ligue 1 Uber Eats. With no guarantee of playing time, his 21 starts in Ligue 2 BKT last year - added to his 25 Toulouse games in the top flight - did not paint the full picture of this dominant lower-level player with the desire to impose himself. "It was difficult to leave but I was prepared for it, I knew it would happen and that I would have to adapt quickly to a new environment," he explained in a press conference last week. "It was difficult to leave but I was prepared for it, I knew it would happen and that I would have to adapt quickly to a new environment." 'You have to be ready'

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How quickly? Fonseca gave him his chance on the opening day of the season, bringing him on with 15 minutes of the 4-1 win over Auxerre left to play, and Diakité has now started Les Dogues' last six matches.     "I didn't expect to be used so quickly but as a player you have to be ready," he Diakité. "I was ready as soon as the coach gave me my chance and I managed to follow it up." Diakité almost always plays in a hybrid position: right-back in a four-man defence when his team does not have the ball and then right-sided stopper in a three-man defence when in possession. Valuable versatility This valuable versatility makes him indispensable in the eyes of Paulo Fonseca, who initially preferred Akim Zedadka, a right-back with an attacking profile much more in keeping with the current standards of the position. "Bafodé is very consistent, I am very happy with his performances and that he has been called up to the U21 team," noted his coach after learning of his defender's call-up. "He plays in different positions, with different roles on the pitch, and does a good job."

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Diakité credits his smooth integration into the squad - and his locking down a place on the pitch - to this polyvalence. "Being able to play in different positions means that when the coach has a particular need and there are gaps in certain areas, he calls on you. It made it easier for me to fit in," explained the youngster, who nonetheless has a preference as to where he plies his trade. "Right now, I feel more like a right-back because I play there, but my preferred position is central." Ripoll: 'A guarantee of quality'

His call-up to the U21s, while rewarding a good start to the season as an individual, is nevertheless linked to this versatility. In a team that is mostly filled with central players - to the point that it was central defender by trade Pierre Kalulu who started on the right against Germany - Diakité's recent positional switch may work in his favour and sendup leading to the glittering prize of a first international cap. "I see consistency, he has the aggression, the ability to play in several positions too, so it is a guarantee of quality," France U21 boss Sylvain Ripoll told the press earlier this week. "He was part of the squad in 2020, even though he didn't play," recalled Ripoll. "He has a wealth of good qualities." It's now up to Bafodé Diakité to confirm this over time, but the ball is rolling...

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