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Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Djimi Traore and Amdy Faye

The much awaited, and badly needed, Charlton additions have at last arrived with the aquisition of two African players with exotic names. Its all very well having a couple of Bents, and a mixture of Young, Hughes, Holland, Thomas but in the modern game its obligatory to sign players from the dark continent with appropriately difficult names.

First to arrive then is defender Djimi Traore, the 26-year-old Mali international from Liverpool. Traore was a member of Liverpool's Champions League winning side against AC Milan in Istanbul in May 2005 after being signed by Gerard Houllier from Laval for £550,000 in February 1999. According to the Liverpool website he played a total 141 first-team games for the reds.

His career at Liverpool has had some ups and downs — he played for most of the 2002–03 season, deputising for the injured Stéphane Henchoz, having been on loan with French club Lens the previous season. He spent the 2003–2004 season, Houllier's last at the club, in the reserve team, of which he was captain, and almost left Liverpool for their Merseyside neighbours Everton on the 2004 transfer deadline day but remained at Anfield, where he has mostly been employed at left back.

Traoré career seems to have been revitalised by new manager Rafael Benítez since the summer of 2004. Rather worryingly the defender had been continually exposed for being poor positionally, and seemed reticent to attack. Now he shows more willingness to support the left winger as well as improved positional play.

Unfortunately for us, rather than his Champions League medal he's better remembered for his bizarre own-goal that gifted Burnley a 1-0 victory over Premiership giants Liverpool in the third round of the 2004–05 FA Cup. This however did solve the problem of how to pronounce his name in Scouse and has reputably earned him the nickname of "Bambi" among the Anfield faithful. He has 5 Mali caps to his name, can also play at centre-back and has reputable scored only one other goal apart but the famous one.

The long-running transfer saga, where a vital sticking point has obviously been that Traoré still has two years left on a lucrative deal at Liverpool which means that we were pushing for a loan deal rather than having to revert to that drastic last resort, and to be avoided if at all possible, the handing over of readies. Well, readies it was, £2 million. Is he worth it? We''ll have to wait and see.

Easier on the tongue is the second new player Amdy Faye a 29 year old Senegalese international from Newcastle United although the spelling of his first name seems in some doubt. Faye began his career at French Ligue One club AS Monaco FC, and then had spells with ES Frejus and AJ Auxerre where he played 80 games and gained a French cup-winners medal in 2003. He played for Senegal at the 2002 FIFA World Cup, before transferring to Portsmouth for £1.5 million in August 2003.

He made his debut for Portsmouth in a 2-1 home win over Aston Villa and soon proved to be an excellent buy for the club playing 27 games and helping Portsmouth to a mid-table position. The Senegal international made the most tackles (132) of any Portsmouth player that season and only Steve Stone attempted more passes than the central midfielder although another player who finds goals hard to come by, only scoring 3 in his 8 years of first-team football.

Faye's combative style throughout the season often brought him to the attention of the league's officials, as well as opposing clubs, who pulled him up for 54 fouls and seven yellow cards in his 27 appearances. In January 2005 after having impressed Graham Souness he was transferred to Newcastle United for about £2 million and he's played 45 games in his eighteen months at St. James Park. A change of management however has restricted his appearances as new manager Roeder seems to prefer Parker and Emre in his midfield so recent games seem to have been scarce.

As is sadly commonplace in many of our transfers deals we don't seem to have could out of it too well. Newcastle have recovered the money they paid eighteen months ago for a player unloved by the fans and currently relegated to their reserves. We can only hope that Monica has done his homework.

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