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Irish Hammer 11:17 Thu Sep 23
Mr Issa “Monster” Diop, C’est Formidable !

Bonjour gentlemen. Enjoy…..

Diop a ‘colossus’ against Manchester United and shows West Ham have a bright (French) future in defence

It is almost three years since former Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho labelled Issa Diop a “monster” — and although the defender has struggled with consistency, belatedly he is starting to show why he was deserving of such praise.

In September 2018, West Ham beat Manchester United 3-1 in the Premier League and Diop produced a man of the match performance. Three months prior, the now 24-year-old joined for a then club-record fee of £22 million from Toulouse.

“Their centre-back had a fantastic match,” said Mourinho. “Congratulations to the scout who found Diop, a monster who dictated everything.”

Many would argue Diop hasn’t made the next step in his development. He has struggled to establish himself as a regular starter and at one point his long-term future at the London Stadium seemed bleak.

The defender was linked with a loan move to Liverpool last January after slipping to fourth in the pecking order of centre-backs. A move to Anfield never came though and eight months later the Frenchman looks rejuvenated — and has caught the eye over the past seven days.

In the 1-0 Carabao Cup win at Old Trafford, the defender excelled alongside Craig Dawson and the duo nullified Anthony Martial’s impact. While Dawson was deservedly named man of the match, Diop made seven clearances, the most by a defender, and many important blocks. He was embraced by Kurt Zouma at full-time after the centre-back duo impressed in the 2-0 Europa League group stage win at Dinamo Zagreb.

The French pair are yet to reach their prime but with Angelo Ogbonna, 33, and Dawson, 31, in the twilight of their careers — it appears West Ham have already found their long-term centre-back combination.

The most pleasing aspect of Diop being one of the key performers at Old Trafford was he showed his display in Croatia wasn’t a one-off. There have been too many occasions where the defender will impress, but struggle to sustain his form.

Diop’s contract expires in the summer of 2023, although West Ham have the option to extend by a further year. But in the short term, he looks set to give manager David Moyes a difficult defensive conundrum.

“I think he’s always had confidence to be honest,” said first-team coach Stuart Pearce. “We’ve got a real strong situation at the heart of our defence. Dawson has come in and been magnificent since he’s come into the club. Ogbonna has been brilliant and obviously Kurt’s come to join us as well and Aaron Cresswell can play in that situation if we need a three.

“But I thought Diop was absolutely magnificent. The longer the game went on the more of a colossus he looked at the back and he’s still in relative terms, a very young man for a central defender so we’re absolutely delighted to have Issa at this club.

“That performance tonight just puts more pressure on the manager to say look we’ve got four really good central defenders at this club and selection is up there. But Issa has done himself no harm the same as Dawson has tonight with their performance, they were magnificent.”

West Ham will face holders Manchester City in the fourth round at home. The draw wasn’t greeted with much enthusiasm considering the last time Moyes’ side beat City was September 2015. But there were plenty of positives from the win at Old Trafford with Alphonse Areola and Alex Kral also impressing on their debuts.

Since joining on a season-long loan from Paris Saint-Germain, Areola has patiently had to wait for his chance. The Frenchman kept a clean sheet and made top saves to keep his side in the game. Whether it was a reflex save to tip Juan Mata’s side-footed volley onto the bar, or superbly denying Mason Greenwood from close range — it appears it won’t just be in defence where Moyes faces a selection dilemma.

“I think in the summer, David wanted probably 20 outfield players and the goalkeeping situation to be solid, I think we’ve got that,” said Pearce. “We’ve got competition for places. I think at this moment in time, you know, bear in mind we had Tomas Soucek and Declan Rice on the outside and a lot of changes within our ranks there’s competition for places here, real bright togetherness and I think we’ve almost got the mentality of the top teams if I’m being honest.”

There was a time when West Ham would arrive at Old Trafford and hope for the best. These days, even with a second-string team, they have confidence they can pull off an upset. It is encouraging that players no longer take their place in the team for granted, and squad depth will certainly be key to any success the club have this season.

For the boisterous away crowd, it would have felt like a home game. The journey to Manchester would have been all the sweeter following the win and perhaps there is already a chant in the works for the seemingly French future of the West Ham rearguard.

Replies - Newest Posts First (Show In Chronological Order)

angryprumphs 7:49 Thu Sep 23
Re: Mr Issa “Monster” Diop, C’est Formidable !
One of his best game for us last night, was a beast. I thought Johnson had a really solid game too, made a couple of mistakes in the second half but linked up really well and was solid at the back.

Side of Ham 7:19 Thu Sep 23
Re: Mr Issa “Monster” Diop, C’est Formidable !
⚒️ 12:02 Thu Sep 23

Just like you claimed constantly Nketiah was on his way in....

chim chim cha boo 6:55 Thu Sep 23
Re: Mr Issa “Monster” Diop, C’est Formidable !
A lovely read but at the risk of sounding boring it's the left-back position that worries me. Cressy is fantastic but I don't trust anyone to deputise if he gets injured. He's our most underrated player

Nick QQQ 1:16 Thu Sep 23
Re: Mr Issa “Monster” Diop, C’est Formidable !
I can't remember having such solid CBs with such good cover. All 4 of them could play together and do a good job. Be great to have the same competition all over the pitch, which you can see (CF aside) is what Moyes is trying to do

dealcanvey 12:58 Thu Sep 23
Re: Mr Issa “Monster” Diop, C’est Formidable !
He was class last night.

Think he has just under 2 years left on his deal. Surely we should be trying to get him tied down for longer?

Takashi Miike 12:04 Thu Sep 23
Re: Mr Issa “Monster” Diop, C’est Formidable !
a few people were worried they'd sell him at the last minute, it's what they used to do. thankfully it looks like the manager is in charge

⚒️ 12:02 Thu Sep 23
Re: Mr Issa “Monster” Diop, C’est Formidable !
Hang on, didn’t Manuel claim that Diop was off on deadline day?

Russ of the BML 11:40 Thu Sep 23
Re: Mr Issa “Monster” Diop, C’est Formidable !
Agree ironskej.

Sometimes the path to being a starter with regular games and consistent form is not always an easy one. For Diop it's not been. I remember when we got him I thought that we had a beast on our hands. His first few games for us were brilliant. But somewhere he lost his way and lack of form and drop in confidence done him.

But you now look at his path and the trajectory with Ogbonna's career and you do see them starting to line up. I don't think it will be long before Diop pushes Oggy aside and becomes Zouma's partner.

Great pairing for the future that is by the way.

ironskej 11:34 Thu Sep 23
Re: Mr Issa “Monster” Diop, C’est Formidable !
I think eventually him and Zouma will be our starter CBs once the Og starts to slow down. The Og is still ahead of him at the moment.

Sniper 11:28 Thu Sep 23
Re: Mr Issa “Monster” Diop, C’est Formidable !
He was very very good last night. Him and Dawson played really well together. After a good game in the europa last week (especially the last twenty minutes or so) I’m hoping Moyes is finally getting the best out of him, as I really want him to work for us

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