West Ham United’s efforts of emerging as a London giant and get closer to the likes of Chelsea, Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur did not work out in recent years, despite the Hammers spending heavily.
But the owners are not ready to give up yet and the acquisition of the London Stadium has offered them a massive uplift to pursue their objective. The Hammers had an underwhelming 2017/18 campaign as they finished in the lower half of the Premier League table. But still, West Ham managed to appoint Manuel Pellegrini as their new boss, replacing David Moyes.
The Chilean helped Manchester City to the Premier League title in the 2013/14 season but the challenges he will face at West Ham will be pretty different as he is supposed to improve an unimpressive side and eventually guide them to claim a place in Europe.
However, Pellegrini is already in action as the Hammers have signed highly-rated France youth international centre-back Issa Diop for a club-record £22m fee from Toulouse.
Diop, who has represented his nation in all youth ranks from Under-16s to Under-21s, is rated very highly back in France. Despite being just 21 years old, Diop has made close to a 100 appearances for Toulouse. He is 6ft 4in tall, holds a strong physical as well as aerial presence,and possesses all the traits to emerge as a long-term solution for West Ham’s backline.
The east London club have already parted ways with James Collins, therefore leaving just Angelo Ogbonna and Winston Reid as their central defensive options. Declan Rice was handed regular game time by former West Ham boss Moyes last season. However, the teenager should be viewed as a future prospect by the Hammers.
The addition of Diop will offer flexibility for Pellegrini, who could use him in a back-three or in the more conventional four-man backline set-up. The right-footed defensive ace should slot right into their deep defensive line alongside Angelo Ogbonna.
Ryan Fredericks, who joined from Fulham on a free transfer, was the Irons’ first signing under the Chilean, and the right-back is tipped to compete with Pablo Zabaleta for a place in the starting line-up.
Fredericks should be preferred if West Ham play with four at the back but in case of a three-man defence, Zabaleta should feature in a wing-back role for his persistent overlapping runs, crosses and attacking contribution.
West Ham, meanwhile, will need further additions in the middle of the park, more preferably in an attacking role, following Manuel Lanzini’s injury, which shattered his World Cup dreams.
The Argentine underwent surgery on Thursday, and it remains to be seen when he returns to action. They also need to add a prolific centre-forward as Andy Carroll is likely to leave the club. But this is how West Ham could line-up next season with Diop in their ranks.
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