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The case for Issa Diop

Blog by Allen Cummings

The general consensus of opinion appears to be that of the four new additions to the West Ham squad, Kurt Zouma is the one most likely to make the starting line-up to face Southampton. Although to be fair David Moyes has never been one to worry too much about ‘general consensus of opinion’ – and rightly so! He’s his own man and will continue to do things his way, and not worry about what anyone else thinks.

So it ‘could be an Angelo Ogbonna and Kurt Zouma partnership we see at the heart of the defence – for a while at least. But is that the way it will stay, or has Moyes got something different in mind for the longer term as the bedrock of our back four? Angelo has been a terrific servant for the club since his arrival in July 2015 from Juventus. He has become and still is, a big favourite with the West Ham faithful. Zouma may have a big price tag, but Oggy will still be seen as the senior partner, and understandably so. Despite plenty of Premier League experience himself, Kurt will know he can still learn and improve his own game playing alongside a seasoned professional like Ogbonna, who will be looking to close in on 200 Premier League appearances for the Hammers as the current season progresses.

But now in his 34th year, Angelo’s body is showing some signs of wear and tear (whose isn’t). A couple of injuries last season restricted his appearances. The 28 games he played was just four more than Michail Antonio managed, and we’re all aware of the concerns for his fitness and availability. Could it be that Moyes’ ultimate pairing will be Zouma and Issa Diop? At 24 Issa is two years younger than Kurt – and seven years younger than Moyes’ other alternative, Craig Dawson. Oddly we view Dawson as something of a veteran himself – but he is in fact younger than Ogbonna by two years.

Diop was an instant hit with Hammers’ fans in his first season at the club back in 2018 – playing 33 times in the Premier League that season, and recording 32 appearances the following season. But a dip in form last term saw Moyes bring in the more experienced Dawson, limiting Diop’s starts to just 15. There was even talk in the last transfer window of possible interest in Diop from Spurs, but with Moyes looking to cover the departure of Fabian Balbuena, why would he sanction the departure of Diop to leave yet another gap?

Manuel Pellegrini paid Toulouse £22m to bring Issa to the London Stadium. That looked to have been money well spent – and can do so again. Diop has plenty going for him. His age, athleticism and Premier League experience. Issa benefitted from having the experience of Oggy alongside him – he will do so again if he’s partnered with Zouma. David Moyes has a reputation for getting the best out of players. He’s done it with Jarrod Bowen, Said Benrahma and Pablo Fornals – gradually bringing them on. Don’t rule out a repeat performance with Issa Diop.

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About Sean Whetstone

I am Season Ticket Holder in West stand lower at the London Stadium and before that, I used to stand in the Sir Trevor Brooking Lower Row R seat 159 in the Boleyn Ground and in the Eighties I stood on the terraces of the old South Bank. I am a presenter on the West Ham Podcast called MooreThanJustaPodcast.co.uk. A Blogger on WestHamTillIdie.com a member of the West Ham Supporters Advisory Board (SAB), Founder of a Youtube channel called Mr West Ham Football at http://www.youtube.com/MrWestHamFootball, I am also the associate editor here at Claret and Hugh. Life Long singer of bubbles! Come on you Irons! Follow me at @Westhamfootball on twitter

6 comments on “The case for Issa Diop

  1. In many ways players are better with regular playing time . This goes for Diop , the lad has talent but needs to be consistent, & get a chance . Don’t debate he needs to improve but it’s there ! Let’s hope DM can get the best out of him ⚒

  2. Issa Diop has every attribute to be a truly top class defender apart from concentration, something Rio had trouble with at a similar age. If he can improve in that area it will help him to not get caught out of position as much.

  3. i think Diop will come through fine =given time.

  4. We have a bunch of good players that could use a game, like Diop. I’m thinking that with Europe and the league cup, we’ll see some of them. It would be good to have Ogbonna and Zouma in the premier league, but Dawson and Diop starting in the Europa and other cups. Plus the likes of Lanzini and Areola in Europa and the cups. I’m looking forward to seeing other players getting game time with all the fixtures!

  5. totally agree. a lot of our fans may not remember -because memories are short these days – how much moaning went on regarding Ogbonna in his first two seasons with us. there were many calls to get rid of him. i myself wasn’t entirely convinced. now, you barely see him make a mistake at all. he grew into this club and we ended up loving him. i do, anyway. let’s hope Issa does exactly the same. he’s learnt from the best cb we’ve had for 20 seasons (with all respect to Winston & Ginger Pele)

    • I agree and have said on here in the past that in the last 2 seasons that Ogbonna is all the more impressive as even as a mature player he improved his game, cutting out the lapses in concentration and positioning that he was prone to in his first few years with us. He’s a great role model for Diop. If the future is Zouma and Diop, the present in my opinion is very much Ogbonna plus one.

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