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In profile: Issa Diop

Written by Jack Stroudley on 9th August 2022

Jack Stroudley looks at the man Marco Silva has been after for weeks.

Just like London buses, defensive signings come in pairs at Fulham. Following the signing of Shane Duffy, it appears that the Issa Diop saga is over with the former French U21 international looking to be on his way to SW6 for a fee being reported between £15 and £17 million and will sign for Fulham until 2028. Once again, I thought I’d head online to see what type of defender we are going to be getting for that price.

The fact file

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Issa Diop played for his hometown club Toulouse throughout his youth career before making his professional debut aged 18 against Nice. Diop managed to score on his second career appearance in a 3-0 win away from home against Troyes. He played 21 times during his first professional season and impressive performances contributed towards the French side avoiding relegation down to Ligue 2.

Diop went from strength to strength at Toulouse being named club captain aged 20, during his time at the French club he made just under 90 league appearances and helped the side make the quarter finals of the Coupe de France.

His rise through the squad caught the eye of West Ham and in 2018 the side from East London broke their club record fee signing Diop for £22 million. Diop impressed in his first season under Manuel Pellegrini with a handful of clubs in England interested in the defender. West Ham quoted Manchester United a price of £75 million to take Diop off their hands.

Diop’s game time has dropped throughout his tenure at West Ham, this was down to a change in management with David Moyes not particularly keen on Issa Diop, opting for players like Craig Dawson & Kurt Zouma ahead of him.

A deeper dive

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I thought I’d take a look at his stats during that 2018/19 season when he was touted with a move to Manchester United. Firstly, his defensive stats were very impressive averaging 1.74 tackles per 90 as well as 2.42 interceptions and 2.39 blocks putting him well above average for central defenders in the top five divisions. He was also more than competent on the ball with an 88% pass completion rate. The only concerning stat is that despite his 6’3 stature he did struggle at times to win headers.

Below you can see how those stats translate in graph form with Diop in the blue and the average central defender for that season in the grey. This indicates that if Diop returns to that form, we will be getting a very solid defensive minded central defender who may have some limitations in regards to progressive passing.

Diop’s 18/19 season compared to the average Premier League defender. Credit: Soccerment

Yes or no?

To conclude, would I sign Issa Diop? In a heartbeat! While he’s faltered over the last few years at West Ham, he’s shown in his first season in England as well as his time in France that if you give him the minutes he wants and the trust that he is the right man for the job he will reward you with effort and quality defensive performances.

Diop will start most games for us this season, and Marco Silva will give him the trust that he wants to perform on a regular basis. Aged just 25 and signing on six-year deal, depending on how the season goes and if we stay up, Diop could become part of the furniture at Fulham.

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