After inspiring Bayer Leverkusen to a 4-0 win over Borussia Mönchengladbach on Matchday 2, Moussa Diaby had an inkling this might be his week.
It was his second straight man-of-the-match performance in as many games this season with the wing wizard hitting the ground running this term, and receiving a call from France coach Didier Deschamps on Thursday that he had been longing for.
"As usual, I'm going to be looking at the call-ups, first of all because I'm a big fan [of France], but it is my objective [to be called up]," Diaby told AFP. "I've still got work to do and I don't want to get ahead of myself, but when the moment does come, if I am given a chance, I'll jump at it with excitement and pride."
"Good performances always give you more visibility and you could see that with Marcus [Thuram] – he's playing in the same league as me and he's always played well, and he got called up, so why not me? I'm definitely ready."
Watch: Diaby inspires Leverkusen to 4-0 win over Gladbach
Diaby was already in Deschamps' thoughts before he struck two goals and an assist in the first two games of the season, and he has now earned a deserved first call-up for France's FIFA World Cup qualifiers against Bosnia-Herzegovina (Strasbourg, September 1), Ukraine (Kiev, September 4) and Finland (Lyon, September 7).
Since joining Leverkusen from Paris Saint-Germain in 2019, the 22-year-old has just got better and better. He steered in five goals and as many assists in his first season in the Bundesliga before scoring a further four and setting up 12 last term.
This season may still be young, but the signs are Diaby has taken his game onto yet another level with his inspiring performances, the fruit of the regular football he has been enjoying in Germany.
"I left my comfort zone in leaving Paris," he said. "But it was a way of taking responsibility and I soon felt I was important in this club's project. The Bundesliga gives a lot of opportunities to young players; they like to give long-term contracts and let them show what they can do.
"I found what I was looking for in Germany: playing time and confidence."
Diaby turned his back on an almost annual subscription to trophies with PSG, where he was rarely playing a over the full 90 minutes, to further his career in a place where not only does he feel valued, but where he feels he is being tested week in, week out.
"[Leaving PSG] doesn't stop me from being ambitious," he said. "My objective is to play in the Champions League every year. That's not a given in Leverkusen, but it's something we've got to aim for. The pressure matches give me the added motivation to show what I am capable of and then aim even higher, and if I were to win titles, that would be a huge reward."
Earning a maiden call to the senior France squad after 12 games at U21 level is the first reward for Diaby's consistently impressive performances.
The 22-year-old has struck a blistering rapport with Jeremie Frimpong on the Leverkusen right which has become the equivalent of a fast lane on the Autobahn. Both are among just five players to have exceeded 21.75 mph (35km/h) this season with Diaby hitting 21.79mph (35.07km/h) and Frimpong overlapping at 21.87mph (35.2km/h).
Combining speed with excellent close control allows Diaby to burst into promising positions, from where he has already had six shots this season, ranking him in the top ten in this statistic, while he has carved open countless opportunities for his teammates, with his single-season best of 12 assists from last season looking at risk and Patrik Schick licking his lips.
'His dribbling? Amazing. His pace? Irresistible. His speed of thought? Astonishing' wrote the Rheinische Post about Diaby's contribution to last weekend's crushing win over Gladbach. 'Assist for Schick, scored the 3-0 himself and was unstoppable,' summarised the Bild of a performance Leverkusen fans are becoming accustomed to.
With international recognition now arriving, Diaby's move to Leverkusen as a 19-year-old appears to have been a very wise choice for a dazzling dribbler whose dreams are coming true.
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