When David Gold and David Sullivan splashed a then club-record fee on Issa Diop, not many West Ham fans would have expected the defender to be this good.
Signed for a reported £22 million from French strugglers Toulouse, Diop was a complete newcomer to the Premier League. The defender had made a name for himself in France, breaking through into Ligue 1 at the age of 18 and remaining a part of his team’s makeup for the next three seasons.
Plenty of clubs were interested in the centre-back following the conclusion of the 2017/18 football season, with the likes of Manchester United and Arsenal all interested in Diop, but in the end, it was West Ham who secured the signature of the defender, and so far it has proven to be a worthwhile signing.
Diop started all but five Premier League games in his debut campaign in England, showing maturity and sturdiness at a young age that quickly won over the admiration of the Hammers fans while seeing the defender’s stock rise massively, with the former Toulouse man now being valued at £27 million on Transfermarkt.
The French youngster has already proven to be a successful purchase from Manuel Pellegrini, and the defender can only get better from here.
With a big summer transfer window coming up for West Ham, it is likely that Diop will be introduced to a new defensive partner with reports indicating that Pellegrini is in need of another centre-back to play alongside the France U-21 international (Football.London), further showing how much the club value the defender’s impact in the team.
With Diop in defence and Declan Rice in the midfield, West Ham have a solid core in the works that can remain at the club for years to come if both players can hang around in east London long enough before big money offers comes in.
The 22-year-old has been a sensation for West Ham since his move last summer, and with the club willing to see Diop develop into a better defender, it is likely we will see a new defensive superstar emerge from east London one day in the future.