Aston Villa star Moussa Diaby began his professional career with Paris Saint-Germain. As a result, the forward had plenty of players who influenced his young career before he decided it was time to look for greener pastures.
Diaby noted in an interview with the Daily Mirror that there was one player that he focused on within the entire quality players that Paris Saint-Germain: Angel Di Maria.
The Aston Villa man said that because the Argentine winger plays the same position, his eyes were on the 2022 FIFA World Cup winner.
“I was 13 or 14 when I signed for the academy and there were a lot of big players. Mbappe, Neymar, Di Maria, Cavani … there was a long list of them,” Diaby told the English outlet. “So I watched them. I watched them every day – to learn. I saw that they had a big passion. I learnt how they moved and saw how they approached every game they played in.
“Those players don’t do the same things. Mbappe is a top player but he’s not the same as Di Maria or Cavani. What I learnt is their different strengths. Cavani’s movement was top quality. He always looked for the space. Di Maria had great technique. He was the one I watched more than anyone because we played in the same position.”
Diaby left PSG for Bayer Leverkusen in 2019, where the Frenchman would flourish. He appeared in 172 matches for the German club, scoring 49 goals and registering 48 assists. Diaby’s production eventually led to a move to the Premier League.
In July, Aston Villa agreed a deal to sign Diaby and pay a transfer fee of around €40 million (£34.6 million) plus add-ons. The 24-year-old appeared in 10 matches in all competitions for the English side, scoring two goals and registering three assists.