Abdou Diallo: Who is the Senegal defender on loan at RB Leipzig from Paris Saint-Germain?
Abdou Diallo's decision to join RB Leipzig on loan from Paris Saint-Germain, and represent Senegal over France at international level, has been fully vindicated. bundesliga.com has the lowdown on the versatile defender...
Club: RB Leipzig (on loan from Paris Saint-Germain)
Position: Centre-back/ left-back
Country: Senegal (19 caps, two goals)
Born to Senegalese parents in the French city of Tours, Diallo started out with various local clubs before joining the prestigious Monaco youth system in 2011, coming through the ranks a few years ahead of future teammate Kylian Mbappe. He made his Ligue 1 debut for the Principality club in December 2014, but with limited playing opportunities he decided to gain experience abroad, going on loan to Belgian club Zulte Waregem. He made 33 Pro League appearances in 2015/16, before returning to Monaco for their title-winning campaign of 2016/17. Though he received a Ligue 1 winner's medal, Diallo remained a bit-part player, only featuring in five games throughout the season.
Things changed when he moved to the Bundesliga ahead of the 2017/18 season, signing a five-year contract with Mainz. Aged just 21, Diallo put in a string of impressive performances at the heart of the 05ers' defence, nodding in his first Bundesliga goal in an impressive 3-1 win over Bayer Leverkusen. He made a total of 27 top-flight appearances – only missing a handful of games through injury and suspension – and demonstrated his versatility by playing as both a centre- and left-back. The following summer, Borussia Dortmund made him their most expensive defensive signing at that point, shelling out 28 million euros to bring him to the Signal Iduna Park on another five-year deal.
Diallo had another impressive league campaign in 2018/19, helping Dortmund to finish just two points behind Bayern Munich as Bundesliga runners-up. Once again, he alternated between centre-back and left-back as he made 28 Bundesliga outings, scoring in a 3-1 home win over Eintracht Frankfurt.
The versatile defender returned to France in summer 2019 when he was snapped up by Ligue 1 giants PSG, with whom he has lifted three league titles and two French Cups. Interestingly, the return to his country of his birth coincided with Diallo choosing to represent Senegal on the international stage. Despite playing in the France youth teams from 2011 until 2019 – even captaining the U21s for two years – he made his first senior appearance for the Lions of Teranga in March 2021.
Diallo is unlikely to have had too many regrets about his "personal and considered choice" to switch allegiances. In early 2022, he helped to write one of the biggest chapters in Senegalese footballing history, as Aliou Cisse's side won the Africa Cup of Nations for the very first time. Diallo more than played his part, featuring in every single minute of the tournament, scoring the opening goal in the semi-final win over Burkina Faso, and coolly slotting home his penalty in the decisive shootout win over Egypt in the final.
In the summer of 2022, Diallo made another big decision: to leave PSG and return to Germany, joining Leipzig on a season-long loan (with a buyout clause). Not necessarily guaranteed first-team football under Christophe Galtier in the French capital, Diallo was keen to stay sharp ahead of the 2022 World Cup, which Senegal reached with another penalty shootout victory against Egypt.
Plays a bit like: Josko Gvardiol
As a versatile centre-back who can also deputise at left-back, Diallo has plenty in common with Leipzig teammate Josko Gvardiol – alongside whom he has already lined up a couple times in central defence this term. Neither man really fits the wing-back profile, as they tend to prioritise defensive tasks rather than bombing up the pitch. And like Diallo, Gvardiol is a key player for his national team Croatia, who are also in action at the 2022 World Cup.
Did you know?
He may only be 26, but Diallo has already been married for nearly a decade. He met his wife at the age of 16 and tied the knot at 18 – although an unfortunate incident with a canine might have derailed his relationship before it got off the ground.
"When I met my wife, we went out on a date, and a dog ran out in front of us," the Leipzig star explained on BBC News Afrique. "I was scared and I kind of pushed her towards it. Can you imagine? I almost didn't get married because of a dog."
Luckily, the Lion of Teranga seems to have gotten over his phobia, and now he certainly doesn't mind going up against some of the Bundesliga's top dogs in attack…
Watch: Skip to 00:29 seconds for Abdou Diallo's first Bundesliga goal for Leipzig
What they're saying
"Abdou is a great guy and a good footballer who can lead a team. He's at his peak age. We're very happy to think about tying him to Leipzig for longer. You can tell that he feels comfortable here." - Leipzig coach Marco Rose to the Mitteldeutsche Zeitung on the prospect of making Diallo's loan move permanent
"With the signing of Abdou Diallo, we are now well set up to deal with the many intensive weeks of multiple games across three competitions." - Leipzig commercial director for sport Florian Scholz
"Abdou is a modern and strong centre-back who's very intelligent to boot. He can also play a wider defensive role or even be deployed in defensive midfield." - former Dortmund sporting director Michael Zorc
Matchday 26 probable teams
Bayern top scorer Jamal Musiala is running again, but will he be fit to face Dortmund in Der Klassiker?
Bundesliga title race: form check
BVB hold a slender lead over Bayern, but Union, Freiburg and Leipzig are not completely out of the running yet...
RB Leipzig win German eFootball Club Championship
RB Leipzig are the 2023 Virtual Bundesliga Club champions, successfully defending the title they won last year.