Bought from Toulouse over the summer for a then club record fee of £22.5m (before the arrival of Felipe Anderson), Issa Diop has quickly established himself as a key man in Manuel Pellegrini’s defence.
Missing the first two games of the season, the 21-year-old has not missed a minute of football since, most recently featuring in the 1-0 loss to Brighton.
Prior to that, he was key in West Ham’s 3-1 victory over Manchester United, and his performance caught the eye of José Mourinho, who seemingly couldn’t help but take a dig at his own scouts by praising the Hammers’ for finding the young Frenchman.
Speaking to La Dépêche du Midi during the international break, the defender was asked about that moment, and what it meant to him.
He said: “Honestly, yes, it was nice, but still, he’s not my manager, so that’s as far as it goes. I’m keeping my head screwed on and staying the same”.
Recently touted to perhaps play for Senegal despite featuring for France at youth level, the defender wanted to make it clear he only desired to wear the blue shirt, and if that didn’t happen, ’so be it’, but he would never represent another country.
As for how things are going at West Ham, the defender couldn’t be happier, except maybe for how things are going on the pitch.
He said: “It’s going very, very well. It’s true that results wise, it could be better. It’s a change as London is a bigger town than Toulouse, but I don’t go out much, so I haven’t felt that much of a difference”.
Far from struggling in communicating with his teammates because he remembered some English from his time at school, Diop is pleased with his integration.
He said: “They’re really nice with me. Before coming here, I didn’t know them personally, but I knew who they were because I watched football on TV”.