|Date of Birth||
10 February 1977
|Place of Birth||
Salif Alassane Diao (born 10 February 1977) is a Senegalese defensive midfielder who played for Liverpool between 2002 to 2007. He made 61 appearances during his time at Liverpool, scoring three goals.
Diao signed for Liverpool for £4,700,000 on 6 August 2002, after catching then manager Gerard Houllier's eye during his time at French club Sedan. He was known as a dominating midfield player, and was described by his manager at the Senegal national team, Bruno Metsu, as a "monster" and that "Salif is a player who makes matches complete. There was no doubt he would be one of the Senegal players to move on to a big club."
His Liverpool debut came on 28 August 2002 in a 2-2 draw against Blackburn Rovers, when he came on as an 87th minute substitute for John Arne Riise. His first start was in a 3-2 win over Bolton Wanderers on 14 September 2002. Despite being played out of position - being deployed at centre back or right back - Diao managed to get on the scoresheet against Spartak Moscow on 2 October 2002 in the Champions League first group phase match in a 5-0 win.
Diao's first season at Anfield was a stop-start affair, where he would go from starting a string of games, to being benched numerous times. He made 40 appearances in his first season at the club, though just over half of them were starts. The next two seasons wouldn't be any more eventful for the Senegalese player, where he managed just 21 appearances in all competitions due to the emergence of Momo Sissoko and Xabi Alonso in the centre of midfield. Birmingham City had signed Diao on loan in January 2005, but this spell was ended abruptly when he suffered an injury.
After not being given a squad number for the 2005-06 season, Diao joined Portsmouth on a season long loan. Similarly with his loan at Birmingham the previous season, his loan with Portsmouth was largely blighted by injuries, leading to Portsmouth manager Harry Redknapp deciding against making the deal permanent.
Diao spent the 2006-07 season on loan at Stoke City, but still couldn't impose himself as a regular in the Potters' first team. He was released by Liverpool at the end of the season, having made 61 appearances in all competitions for the club, scoring three goals. Diao later signed a contract for Stoke. Looking back on his time at the club, Steven Gerrard commented on Diao saying, "With Salif, I knew after a week of training that he wasn't going to be good enough. Diao's a good player, but not Liverpool class."
- League Cup: 2003
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