Loan stints in France
Similar to his stint at Bastia, Diarra was included in the team as a starter by coach Joël Muller. The season was a major success for Diarra as he was the only player in the team to start every league match he played for the club. He also served as captain for a majority of the season. His consistent performances led to his call up to the senior national team. Diarra scored his first goal of the campaign in a 1–1 draw with Ajaccio. He scored the goal in the opening minute of the match. On 6 February 2005, Diarra scored the opener in team's 2–0 win over Paris Saint-Germainat the Parc des Princes. He finished the campaign with 37 total appearances and two goals. Diarra also collected 11 yellow cards.In the 2003 off-season, Diarra admitted that he would love to return to Liverpool stating "I'm someone who is ambitious and I hope to win my place at Anfield next season". However, in July 2003, Houllier confirmed that Diarra would remain in France on loan, this time with Corsican club Bastia. Upon his arrival to the club, Diarra was inserted as a starter by manager Gérard Gili and paid immediate dividends scoring in back-to-back weeks in a 4–2 win against Guingamp and a 4–1 loss to Auxerre in September.On 7 March 2004, he scored a goal in Bastia's surprising 4–1 win over Marseille. Diarra ultimately finished the campaign with 38 total appearances and four goals. After the season, Diarra returned to Liverpool for pre-season training, however, not under the guidance of his recruiter Houllier, but under Spanish coach Rafael Benítez. As a result, he was, for the third consecutive season, linked with a loan move. His non-inclusion on the club's roster for its North America tour meant a loan move was inevitable and, on 27 July 2004, he was loaned to Lens.
BLACK Diarra was assigned the number 4 shirt and made his competitive debut for the club on 4 August 2007 in a 1–0 league win over his former club Lens receiving a yellow card. On 29 August, he scored his first goal for the club in its 1–0 win over Metz. Diarra was a regular within the starting lineup for the entire season starting all 36 league matches he appeared in. He formed excellent midfield partnerships with box-to-box midfielders Alejandro Alonsoand Fernando Menegazzo who gave Diarra the freedom to distribute the ball and dismantle impending attacks from the opposition. On 2 December, Diarra scored a goal in Bordeaux's 4–3 win over Derby de la Garonne rivals Toulouse. After the 2006–07 season with Lyon, Diarra sought to play for another club and was linked primarily to English clubs Manchester City and Portsmouth. In July 2007, Lyon president Jean-Michel Aulas confirmed that the club had accepted a bid of £5 million from Portsmouth. However, Aulas also revealed that Diarra refused the move and preferred to stay in France and join Bordeaux. On 20 July, after a week-long negotiation, Bordeaux confirmed the signing of Diarra. The midfielder signed a four-year contract and the transfer fee was priced at €7.75 million. Diarra stated his primary reason for joining Bordeaux over Portsmouth was because Bordeaux "wants to play for the first positions in Ligue 1 and I am attracted to that". Diarra was signed as a replacement for the departed Rio Mavuba who ventured to Spain. His arrival to the club also coincided with the insertion of former football player Laurent Blanc as manager.
MarseilleOn 16 October 2010, Diarra was involved in a controversial dispute, which resulted in the player being banned from playing league football for six matches. After receiving a yellow card booking from referee Wilfriend Bien in the team's 1–0 win over Auxerre, Diarra responded by pushing the referee with both hands. He was immediately shown a red card and dismissed from the match. After walking off the field, Diarra turned back, walked over to Bien and apologized for the confrontation. After the match, Diarra apologized again for the incident. He was supported by his former coach Laurent Blanc who stated that Diarra made a simple mistake that he immediately regretted as soon as he realized what he did. Diarra was initially suspended for three matches, however, following a November tribunal by the Ligue de Football Professionnel, his suspension was upgraded to six matches. Diarra returned to the team on 27 November playing only the first half in the team's 1–1 draw with Lille.