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Regardless of what happens with Issa Diop, West Ham must go all out to sign this 20-year-old defensive beast

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West Ham Opinion: Hammers should make a move for Malang Sarr irrespective of what the future holds for Issa Diop

According to claims from Get French Football News, West Ham have been credited with an interest in 20-year-old OGC Nice defender Malang Sarr, with reports claiming that the Hammers have lined him up as a potential alternative to Issa Diop.

Diop only made his move to East London last summer from Ligue 1 outfit Toulouse but the 22-year-old’s impressive debut season in the Premier League under the stewardship of Manuel Pellegrini has attracted interest from Man United.

United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is keen to bring Diop to Old Trafford as a part of his youthful defensive overhaul this summer, with the Red Devils prepared to offer Phil Jones as a makeweight in the deal to cope with West Ham’s £75 million asking price for the 22-year-old.

West Ham turned down that approach and demanded Anthony Martial as a part of a swap deal but United rejected such an audacious proposal from the Hammers. (h/t Daily Express)

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With interest in Diop likely to soar sky-high in the coming months, West Ham have seemingly identified another emerging Ligue 1 prospect by the name of Malang Sarr as a potential alternative to their star man.

The 20-year-old is highly-rated in his homeland and has been making waves with his consistently impressive displays at the back in Ligue 1 over the past couple of campaigns.

Sarr made a total of 38 appearances for Nice in all competitions this past season and helped his side to a 7th-place finish in the French top-flight, with manager Patrick Vieira constantly rotating the youngster between left-back and centre-back roles.

His promise and potential have not gone unnoticed and Diop’s raging success in the Premier League might as well prompt the Hammers to firm up their interest in the 20-year-old.

Born in France to parents of Senegalese descent, Sarr rose through the youth ranks of Nice and enjoyed his first-team breakthrough in the 2016-17 season, aged just 17.

The youngster scored on his Ligue 1 debut against Rennes back in 2016, and in doing so, became the second-youngest player to score a goal on Ligue 1 debut.

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Sarr hasn’t looked back since then and has gone on to establish himself as one of the mainstays of Nice’s backline over the last few years.

A regular for France at all youth levels up to U-21, the 20-year-old has already registered a total of 99 appearances for his boyhood club in all competitions till date and he certainly looks good for many more in the years to come.

Essentially a centre-back by trade, Malang Sarr is equally adept at playing on the left-hand side of the backline, owing to his left-footed nature as a defender.

A fast, agile and technically-gifted defender, the youngster has earned plenty of plaudits for his discipline, calmness and composure at the back, whilst his ability to read the game to perfection at such a young age speaks volumes of his talent and potential.

Quick on his feet and blessed with wonderful ball-playing qualities, Sarr’s ability to cut out attacks with well-timed tackles and interceptions, as well as his character and resilience, put him head and shoulders above most of the young players in the same mould.

To put things into perspective, West Ham need not target Malang Sarr as an alternative to Issa Diop but, in all honesty, he the Hammers should make a move for him irrespective of what the future holds for the 22-year-old.

Sarr’s tender years and vast potential coupled with his versatility to play in multiple positions should make him a wonderful asset to the Hammers’ backline.

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Pellegrini rotated the likes of Fabian Balbuena and Angelo Ogbonna to partner Diop at the heart of the defence in the Premier League last season, with Winston Reid spending the entire campaign on the sidelines due to an injury.

Reid doesn’t seem to have a future at the London Stadium, and with Ogbonna nearing the latter stages of his career at 31, it won’t be a bad idea for West Ham to look for youngster alternatives.

Also, the likes of Arthur Masuaku and Aaron Cresswell weren’t all that consistent and productive at left-back and Pellegrini found it hard to pick out a clear-cut first-choice in that position last season.

Sarr’s arrival could bolster the backline with some much-needed fresh blood, whilst also adding depth to the ranks and increasing competition for places.

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All in all, Malang Sarr is a player with a big future and it is a no-brainer that West Ham would bag a massive coup if they manage to strike a deal for him this summer.

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