Interest in West Ham United centre-back Issa Diop is growing ahead of the January transfer window.
What’s the talk?
That’s according to a claim made by Santi Aouna, with the Foot Mercato journalist revealing in a post on Twitter that the trio of AC Milan, Newcastle United and Watford have made contact with the Irons regarding a deal for the 24-year-old defender.
Meanwhile, manager David Moyes is believed to be interested in a number of centre-back targets of his own this winter, with Liverpool’s Nathaniel Phillips and LOSC Lille’s Sven Botman thought to be on the 58-year-old’s shortlist – something that the Daily Mail claim is down to the fact that there are ‘questions remaining over the reliability of Frenchman Issa Diop.’
Moyes can axe Diop with Botman signing
While Diop is undeniably a player who is an extremely useful squad member at the London Stadium, should Moyes have the chance to cash in on the former France U21 international this winter, and subsequently replace him with a centre-back of Botman’s ability, it is certainly a move that the Hammers boss must look to pull off.
Indeed, Diop has struggled to hold down a regular starting spot in the Hammers side since his then-club record £22m arrival in east London back in 2018, with the 24-year-old being typically used as a backup option under the management of Moyes.
This has been the case in the current campaign, in which the £10.8m-rated man has made just five Premier League appearances – which have come as a result of both Kurt Zouma and Angelo Ogbonna being sidelined due to injuries.
And, over these five league outings, the £61k-per-week defender dubbed a “colossus” by Stuart Pearce has hardly shone for the Hammers, averaging a disappointing SofaScore match rating of just 6.60 – ranking him as the club’s joint second-worst performer in the top flight.
Meanwhile, Botman has been in rather contrasting form over his 12 Ligue 1 appearances this term, helping his side keep two clean sheets, scoring one goal and providing his teammates with one assist, as well as making an average of 0.8 interceptions, one tackle, 51.5 passes and winning 68% of his duels per game.
These returns have seen the 21-year-old, who Kevin Phillips dubbed a “[Virgil] Van Dijk-like signing“, average an impressive SofaScore match rating of 7.02, ranking him as Jocelyn Gourvennec’s joint fourth-best player in the French top flight.
As such, should Moyes indeed have the chance to recoup a decent portion of the club’s initial £22m outlay on Diop next month, it would seem very wise for the 58-year-old to do so, before reinvesting the money in a move for the £27m-rated Netherlands U21 international.