Why Man United should reignite their interest in Issa Diop
Issa Diop started his footballing education at Balma SC before completing his development at Toulouse. He signed a professional contract in November 2015 and was promoted to the first-team ranks after impressing for the club’s reserve side. Diop shot to prominence in Ligue 1 during the 2015-16 campaign and gradually established himself as one of the best young defenders in France.
The 23-year-old made 95 appearances in all competitions over the course of three seasons at Toulouse before earning a move to West Ham in 2018. Diop went on to enjoy a successful breakthrough season in the Premier League, guiding the Hammers to an impressive 10th-place finish.
Diop has made a total of 77 appearances for West Ham in all competitions, scoring 5 times in the process. He has also represented France across various levels between U-16 and U-21 but is yet to make his senior international debut.
United’s defensive struggles this season
Man United reaped the benefits of their multimillion-pound outlay on Harry Maguire and Aaron Wan-Bissaka last summer, conceding just 36 goals en route to their 3rd-place finish in the Premier League last term. That represented a significant improvement on the club’s defensive numbers from the 2018-19 campaign where they shipped 54 goals.
The Red Devils seemed to have come a long way since their recurrent struggles at the back heading into the ongoing campaign. However, it has been a throwback to the United of the Mourinho era going by how things have unfolded so far this season.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side have been ripped apart at the back on several occasions already, conceding 14 goals in 7 league games. The 6-1 hiding at home against Tottenham in October was a massive reality check for a club that was expected to challenge for the title this term.
If that was simply a bad day at the office for United’s defenders, then the sight of Demba Ba running clear through on goal in the recent 2-1 Champions League defeat against Istanbul Basaksehir proved that the Red Devils surely need to reshape their backline once again.
United currently have as many as seven senior centre-backs on their books but numbers don’t really matter here, with each player having his own set of problems. Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo have been left out of the club’s Champions League squad while Axel Tuanzebe and Fosu-Mensah are yet to establish themselves firmly in Solskjaer’s plans.
The first-choice centre-back pairing of Harry Maguire and Victor Lindelof has been far from consistent this season. United should, therefore, look to move on some of the underachievers in January to make room for new arrivals. And reigniting interest in Issa Diop would make a lot of sense in footballing terms.
The Frenchman has had his fair share of highs and lows in the Premier League over the past 12 months but has undoubtedly caught the eye with his talent and potential. Diop is still only 23 and has plenty of time on his side to make significant improvements to his game.
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United should definitely make a renewed attempt to lure the 23-year-old away from East London when the market reopens in January.