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Diop delighted with team's progress

Filed: Monday, 1st October 2018
By: Staff Writer

One of West Ham's biggest successes so far this season says that he has enjoyed being thrown in at the deep end.

21-year-old Issa Diop raised eyebrows in the summer when West Ham paid £22million to bring him from French side Toulouse, where he was formerly club captain.

However those same dissenters have been quietened by a string of excellent performances at the heart of West Ham's defence - the latest of which earned him praise from many sources, including Manchester Utd manager Jose Mourino.

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Despite having made a great start to his West Ham career - including grabbing his first goal for the club at AFC Wimbledon in an earlier round of the Carabao Cup - Diop maintains that he still has a long way to go before he reaches his full potential.

"The Premier League is faster and it is box-to-box," he told whufc.com. "In France the teams donít go full in the attack but here all the strikers and wingers are strong, physical and quick. Itís not that easy to defend against.

"I need to adapt but in football you donít have the time, so you need to learn quickly and play well from the first day. I try to do my best on the pitch; I needed to be ready from the start.

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"[This past week has been] good for my confidence; weíve come up against Olivier Giroud last week and Romelu Lukaku this. I think Iíve played a normal game, but I still need to improve and work hard to play better."

And Diop was also full of praise for his partner Fabian Balbuena, who has moved ahead of Angelo Ogbonna in the central defensive pecking order and begun to forge a promising relationship with the French Under 21 international.

"We are improving with each game," said Diop. "We are building the relationship because we have only played a few games together. He is a very good defender and itís easy for me to play with him because he is very strong, he talks and has experience."

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Meanwhile fellow defender Pablo Zabaleta - who is some 13 years' Diop's senior - also expressed his delight at the win and West Ham's improving defence. "Weíre playing with so much intensity and defensively we look very solid and very dangerous going forward," he added.

"It was a huge win for us [against Manchester Utd]. That 4-3-3 formation seems like itís working for us at the moment. When we havenít got the ball, it seems like everyone is in the right position. We looked solid against Manchester United, and that is what you need."
He added:

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