Felipe Anderson was the showpiece signing of West Ham’s 2018 summer spending spree and his performances have vindicated the club’s decision thus far, but Issa Diop has not been too far behind in terms of his respective impact since arriving at the London Stadium.
The Hammers’ decision to sign Diop naturally commanded plenty of interest amongst the expectant fanbase. He was a player who the supporters knew very little about when the signing was confirmed but a £22 million then club record fee suggested his potential was massive.
And, with little over half the season played, it’s fair to say that the initial suspicions have been confirmed following a series of glowing performances.
Diop has been a revelation a the heart of defence, commanding the backline with a maturity beyond his years, utilising his brilliant ability to read the game to win 1 vs 1 duels and matching some of the league’s most electric attacking players stride for stride.
Exactly how high Diop can rise at this level remains to be seen, but there are shades of Vincent Kompany in the way in which he has taken to life in the Premier League, refusing to be fazed by the challenges it brings and making the transition with seamless ease.
But that is not to say that success is guaranteed, and if he wants to reach the top level he will need to be surrounded by top quality players. With that said, it’s a good job that Pellegrini is reportedly in the hunt for Miranda.
According to a recent report from Italian media outlet Corriere Dello Sport (via Football Italia), West Ham have made an approach for the Inter Milan veteran, although they will face competition from Roma for his signature.
That Pellegrini has started Diop in the past 19 consecutive Premier League outings speaks volumes about how highly he is regarded at the club, with the majority of his appearances coming alongside Fabian Balbuena until he suffered a knee injury away at Watford before the turn of the year.
Balbuena’s absence will give Angelo Ogbonna an opportunity to prove himself, but he doesn’t possesses either the quality or the experience to help Diop refine his attributes in the coming months.
Miranda, though, has bags of experience at the very top level, including a Champions League final, 54 Brazil caps and a handful of seasons at the summit of La Liga during his time at Atletico Madrid.
When Atletico were at the peak of their powers they relied heavily on the incredibly solid defensive structure they had in place. Miranda was an integral component of the well oiled machine, as his often Herculean performances enabled his club to upset the odds and pip Real Madrid and Barcelona to the La Liga title in the 2013/14 season, two years after he won the Europa League with the same side.
He has been one of the most consistently excellent defensive performers in Europe for years and, even though his career is winding down at 34-years-old, his experience and knowledge of the game could be invaluable to Diop’s development.
Diop has shown more than enough quality to suggest he can become one of the Premier League’s best defenders during his short time in east London, but the arrival of a mentor of Miranda’s calibre would serve to catalyse the process.
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