Why West Ham keeping hold of Issa Diop is the right decision

According to the London Evening Standard, West Ham boss David Moyes has shut the door on a potential exit for Issa Diop in the January window, despite the centre-back slipping down the pecking order at the London Stadium.

Sky Sports (h/t Mirror) reported back in the summer that the Hammers were prepared to cash in on the 23-year-old amid interest from Premier League rivals Man United and Tottenham should their £45million valuation be met.

Moyes, though, has poured cold water on any speculations over the centre-back’s future by making it clear that the Frenchman is still very much a key part of his plans. 

Diop established himself as one of the best young central defenders in France at Toulouse earlier in his career. The former France U-21 international completed a lucrative transfer to the Premier League with West Ham in the summer of 2018 for a handsome £22million – a club-record fee for the Hammers back then. 

Issa Diop (R) in action against Manchester United (Getty Images)
Issa Diop (R) in action against Manchester United (Getty Images)

He went on to enjoy a stunning debut season in East London under former boss Manuel Pellegrini, starting 33 league games as the Hammers secured an impressive 10th-place finish. Diop once again featured as a regular starter at the back last term but suffered a dip in form as West Ham conceded 62 goals in the Premier League and somehow staved off relegation. 

The 23-year-old retained his status as a starter heading into the 2020-21 campaign before contracting Covid-19 towards the end of the September. Diop’s absence prompted Moyes to bring Fabian Balbuena into the starting XI and the Paraguayan has grabbed his opportunities with both hands, establishing himself as one of the first names on the teamsheet.

Diop has found himself restricted to only a solitary substitute appearance in the Premier League since recovering from his illness. The Frenchman’s diminished role in West Ham’s set-up has cast doubt over his long-term future at the club but it seems now that the manager is keen to have him as a key squad player at the back.

West Ham are willing to sell Issa Diop (Getty Images)
West Ham are not willing to sell Issa Diop (Getty Images)

Putting things into perspective, it is a no-brainer that West Ham have made the right decision by ruling out a potential exit for Issa Diop in the winter market. Despite his recent lack of game time, the Frenchman remains a quality young defender with plenty of room for development and one who is expected to be an integral component of the club’s backline in the years to come.

Verdict

David Moyes deserves all the credit in the world for shoring up a backline that leaked goals far too often in the Premier League last season. West Ham currently sit 7th in the standings after a bright start to the campaign, conceding only 15 goals in 12 games so far. Those numbers certainly point to a massive improvement at the back for the Hammers. 

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That also explains why Diop hasn’t been a key part of the set-up this season, with Moyes preferring Ogbonna, Cresswell and Balbuena in his back-three system. However, the Frenchman will surely have a big part to play in the coming seasons, considering that all the aforementioned defenders are on the other side of 30.

Diop still potentially has his best years ahead of him and with a backline reshuffle very much on the cards in the near future given the age of their current crop of defenders, the Frenchman’s importance certainly can’t be overlooked.  The Hammers need to keep hold of their best players if they are to aim for greater heights and the 23-year-old is certainly among the club’s most valuable assets.

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