Leeds United have agreed a fee to sign midfielder Toumani Diagouraga from Brentford. Here are six things you should know about him.
Mark Warburton, the current Glasgow Rangers manager, was one of the coaches at Watford when Diagouraga took his first steps in English football, arriving at the Hertfordshire club’s academy. Diogouraga had been born in Paris to Malian parents, but he came through Watford’s respected youth system and turned professional with them - and even had a trial at Chelsea. Warburton recently made a bid to sign the player for Rangers before Leeds agreed a fee.
Diagouraga’s first taste of regular professional football came when he went on loan from Watford to Hereford in 2007-8 - helping them to promotion from League Two. He regularly featured for them in the league that season and it led to the player, aged 21 at the time, signing a three-year contract there. Before that Hereford stint, he had also been sent on loan to Swindon and Rotherham but played just a handful of games for both.
Darren Ferguson had an eye on him for some time before signing him for his Peterborough side. Peterborough - promoted with Hereford from League Two in summer 2008 - had been interested in the player during that summer and failed to land him, but they finally got their man a year later. In summer 2009, Hereford had been relegated from League One, while Peterborough were promoted to the Championship, so Diagouraga made the move.
Diagouraga had not played more than a half-century of games for any club, but that was soon to change when he joined Brentford. He first joined the club in January 2010, while they were in League One, on a loan deal then signed permanently in the summer. There was a reunion for the Frenchman when his former mentor, Warburton, was surprisingly appointed as the club’s manager in December 2013.
The long-legged midfielder was not gaining enough game time initially under Warburton so he was sent out on loan to Portsmouth in February for eight games - but that was cut short as Brentford targeted promotion to the Championship. Warburton recalled the player for the final nine games of the campaign. Diagouraga featured in seven of them, starting three, and the club went on to go up to the second tier.
Despite the step up in standard, Diagouraga adjusted brilliantly to the Championship last season and this season, as Brentford became a surprise success story. Last season, they made the play-off semi-finals and he was named player of the year by fans. He has been an ever-present in Brentford’s midfield this season, with the club positioned in the top half of the table. The midfielder has made 27 appearances so far.