Plenty of intrigue surrounded both West Ham United and Wolverhampton Wanderers ahead of the new season after they embarked on substantial summer spending sprees.
Manuel Pellegrini finally reaped the rewards of the club’s extravagant summer splurge as his side recorded a 3-1 victory on the road at Everton yesterday, with recent recruit Andriy Yarmolenko netting a first-half brace to help the Hammers claim their first win of the season.
Wolves were also in action on Sunday as they continued to impress neutral supporters with their attacking style of play in a 1-0 home victory over Burnley.
The fact Nuno Espirito Santo’s side sit 5 points ahead of West Ham after 5 fixtures suggests that Wolves spent their money more wisely in the transfer market, but it’s too early in the season to be jumping to broad conclusions.
However, it’s not too early to assess the initial impact of individual players and assess the merits of summer transfer deals, so let’s take a look at how two high-profile defensive acquisitions, Willy Boly and Issa Diop, have performed so far and which player represents better value for money in the current market.
After enjoying a thoroughly impressive debut campaign with Wolves last season during a season-long loan spell, Boly, 27, completed a permanent switch to Molineux in the summer for a modest fee of £10.8 million.
When fit, Boly was an ever-present at the heart of a back-three last season and his commanding performances played an instrumental role in the club’s domineering title victory.
The towering 6ft 4in presence is a physical force to be reckoned with at the back and, combined with his intelligent positioning sense and effective distribution, he has the skill set to become a mainstay in Nuno’s defence in the years to come.
Questions may be asked of Boly this season when he will inevitably find himself in 1 vs 1 situations against pacey attackers, and he may be caught out if there is space to exploit in behind.
TT Grade: A-
West Ham United were busy bolstering their options throughout the squad during the summer window and they moved into the market to sign a central defender with huge potential.
The 21-year-old powerhouse made 34 appearances in Ligue 1 for Toulousse last season and his well-rounded performances caught the eye of the Hammers scouting network.
Not only is Diop blessed with height, pace and strength, his positioning sense and composure enable him to make smart decisions in dangerous situations, whilst his ability to play out from the back is a quality which comes naturally.
The club may have paid £22.5 million to secure his signature, but his first 3 performances for the club suggest they have landed a huge talent for the future who has the potential to become an instrumental figure under Pellegrini.
TT grade: A
West Ham and Wolves both completed excellent signings in Diop and Boly, but Diop wins the battle of the French defenders.
Although Boly has more experience in English football and has started the season with 5 impressive performances, Diop’s age and scope for improvement make him the better signing, but only marginally.
Over the course of the season Diop is bound to go from strength to strength at the heart of West Ham’s defence and, when the supporters look back on the 2018 summer transfer window in a few years time, it’s likely that they’ll look back and label him a bargain signing, even at £22.5 million.
West Ham and Wolves fans – thoughts? Let us know below!