The 22-year-old centre-back has emerged as one of the top priorities for the Blues, as manager Frank Lampard looks keen on strengthening his side’s defensive options now that their transfer ban is lifted.
Chelsea, who have relied mostly on the youth this season, leaving out the side’s old guards, have done a decent job so far, with the club staying fourth in the league and 8 points short of defending champions Manchester City.
The London-based outfit had a good start to the season, with the centre-back pairing of academy graduate Fikayo Tomori and Kurt Zouma looking solid at the back, which saw them lose just 2 of their first 12 matches.
However, the side has undergone some slip-ups in recent times, losing 5 of their last 9 league outings, raising questions regarding the team’s defensive capabilities.
A highly-rated defender, Diop, has been impressive, despite his side’s poor show this season under former boss Manuel Pellegrini. He has featured in 15 matches for the Hammers and kept 3 clean sheets so far.
After arriving from French side Toulouse in the summer of 2018, Diop did not take much time to adjust to the new conditions in England as he established himself as a regular in the Hammers unit, making 33 league appearances.
Despite it being his debut season, Diop looked a composed figure at the back of a Hammers defence and registered 7 clean sheets in a season which saw them finish 10th in the league.
At 6ft 4in, Diop is a giant presence in the West Ham back-four and makes good use of his physique to dispossess opponents. His average of 4.7 clearances and 2.1 tackles per league game last season speaks volumes about his good tackling and interception skills. (Stats courtesy: Whoscored).
Thus, the young Frenchman would be a great addition to a Chelsea side that has 4 defenders in its ranks, which includes the likes of the experienced Antonio Rudiger and Andreas Christensen other than Tomori and Zouma.
Rudiger had been out for a long time due to injury and has recently returned to action. However, he is yet to hit top form. Christensen has fallen down the pecking order under Lampard and has made just 8 league appearances this season.
Having failed to dig into the market in the summer, Chelsea and Lampard now have an excellent opportunity to bolster their squad.
Moreover, relying too much on youngsters like Tomori is not a viable option for Chelsea in the long run. Thus, Chelsea making a move for the young but established defender like Diop seems like a step in the right direction.