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Abou Diaby set to be released by Arsenal after 42 injuries during a nine-year career

His nine-year career at Arsenal has been an emotional and physical roller coaster.

Often showing glimpses that he is the perfect mix of power and guile his manager craves before spending weeks, or even years, in the treatment room, Arsene Wenger now looks set to release this French midfielder at the end of his contract in June. The ride is coming to an end.

1554 days, 222 weeks, over four years out injured. The numbers aren't as pretty as his playing style can be. This is the curious case of Abou Vassiriki Diaby.

When Diaby arrived in the Premier League on January 13, 2006, Arsenal beat off competition from Chelsea and Jose Mourinho to sign the 19-year-old from Auxerre.

Comparisons were already drawn to club legend and former captain Patrick Vieira because of his height, intensity and technique on the ball.

'Diaby is a bit more offensive than Vieira but when he plays a more defensive role he is very similar,' Wenger said.

He started off well, scoring his first goal for the Gunners in April against Aston Villa, but his debut half-season in north London ended in despair.

Diaby was the victim of an 'assassins tackle' from Sunderland youngster Dan Smith - according to Wenger - his sickening scream as he fractured his ankle at the Stadium of Light must still be heard by the boss.

Put simply, the 28-year-old has never recovered. 

Whether it be a calf muscle or a hamstring, an abdominal strain or a cruciate ligament, Diaby's talent looks set to be wasted.

He has clocked up 42 injuries during his Arsenal career, according to data from physioroom, averaging a new setback every 80 days. The Gunners have played 350 league games since his arrival but Diaby has featured in just 35 per cent of them.

Despite his struggles, his almost constant spell on the sidelines hasn't been short of its positive moments. In early 2012 Diaby came back into the Arsenal team to feature alongside Mikel Arteta and Santi Cazorla and impressed, even scoring on his return to the French national team.

Wenger heralded his fellow countryman as a holding midfielder when he made his one and only performance this season, a slack display against Southampton in a Capital One Cup defeat.

As recently as November, the Gunners' boss was insistent that Diaby would be offered his new contract if he were to prove his health.

'If he comes back, I will keep him. I always believed in him. In football, the most important thing is health.'

But Diaby hasn't come close to featuring since, and given the wealth of midfield options Wenger has available it is extremely unlikely he will ever don the Arsenal shirt again, even if he were to return to fitness.

He is the second longest-serving player at the club behind Theo Walcott, and is a much-loved figure in the dressing room. His emotional pull remains strong with the fans, who would love for him to be the midfield destroyer and box-to-box runner he has shown he can be.

However, this isn't a perfect world and head must rule over heart, especially at a club vying for the top places. Diaby has played one Premier League game in his last two years, and Arsenal have backed the player admirably.

But as the midfielder looks to get back to full strength once again, wherever that may be, this quote by Vieira should not be forgotten.

'If he could have improved constantly, he would have reached an exceptional level. About his potential, he is better than me, better on a technical level, better dribbler, and better scorer too.'

What a player Wenger could have had at his disposal.