No one could have anticipated it, but Mo Diame has been Newcastle best player over the past few months.
The midfielder was hardly a star last season in the Championship, struggling to have any real impact while often being deployed in an uncomfortable attacking midfield position that clearly did not get the best out of the former West Ham and Hull City man.
While many players left, Diame remained on Tyneside over the summer, and was retained for the Premier League expedition, much to the bemusement of some fans. His form did not improve in the middle of the park, as Newcastle headed into the winter period in a precarious position in and around the relegation zone.
However, something suddenly clicked for Diame.
It started with a goal against his former club West Ham in December, and then he really showed his worth when the Magpies hosted a rampant Manchester City side on Boxing Day. Since that strange night at St James’ Park, Diame has been a different player, and has been the heartbeat of a team that looks to be on the brink of Premier League survival.
Diame has been box-to-box and brilliant on and off the ball, putting in vital challenges and starting attacks with powerhouse displays alongside the passing expertise of Jonjo Shelvey.
Sure, Diame has not been great all season, but since December 26th he has been a totally different player, and probably the first name on the team-sheet at times.
While the likes of Jamaal Lascelles have probably been consistently better over the season, there is no way that Newcastle would have won games against the likes of Manchester United had it not been for Diame’s energy and presence in the middle of the park.
With seven games to go, if Diame can maintain his form then few would argue that he is a contender to be named Newcastle’s player of the season.
Now that is a sentence I never dreamt I would say six months ago…