Issa Diop has told the West Ham website that he was forced to adapt quickly to the Premier League. The 21-year-old made his debut in the 1-3 defeat to Arsenal and has played every minute of the season since then.
Diop joined the Hammers from Toulouse this summer for a club record £22 million, but few expected the Frenchman to be so firmly entrenched in the side by October.
Diop is happy with the progress he has made, speaking after Saturday’s 3-1 win over Manchester United he said:
“It is good my confidence – we’ve come up against Olivier Giroud for Chelsea last week and Romelu Lukaku this. I think I’ve played a normal game and I need to improve and work hard to play better.
“I need to adapt [to the Premier League], but in football you don’t have the time so you need to learn quickly and play well from the first day. I needed to be ready from the start.
“The Premier League is faster and it is box-to-box. In France, the teams don’t go full in the attack, but here all the strikers, the wingers are strong, physical and quick. It’s not that easy to defend against.
“Scoring against Wimbledon was for sure a good moment for me. If I didn’t score, it would have been the same, I would have continued to work hard and have confidence in myself. That’s all – I try to do my best on the pitch.”
Diop also spoke positively about the blossoming central defensive partnership with Fabian Balbuena:
“We are improving with each game – we are building the relationship because we have only played a few games together.
“He is a very good defender and it’s easy for me to play with him because he is very strong, he talks and has experience.
“We have a good team and I think we can do better. We need to improve but we are on a good path and I hope the victory helps with that.”
Read more from Jack Kavanagh on his popular culture blog, Culture Hash.