Why Diop Choosing To Play For France Is So Good For Hammers

Declan Rice is not the only West Ham United player who is subject to an International 'tug of war', Rice is entitled to play for either The Republic of Ireland or England, his fellow young defender, Issa Diop, is entitled to play for France, Senegal or Morocco! Diop was born in France to a Moroccan mother and Senegalese father and has played for France at youth and U-21 level, he also scored France's final goal as they beat Italy 4-0 to win the 2016 European Under-19 Championship. Diop's grandfather, Labysse, became the first Senegalese to play in Ligue 1 when he signed for Bordeaux in the 1970's which set a precedent for many of his countrymen to make the journey to France from their homeland to ploy their trade.

When questioned as to where his allegiances lie Diop told french sports site ladepeche.fr. "I have always said that I will only play for France and no one else, hether I am selected or even if I am never selected with the A's, I will not play for another team, I was born in France and it's in France that I have everything, so I do not see why I would play for another nation."

Desciribed as a 'monster' by Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho after his imperious performance where he completely nullified Romelu Lukaku, Diop began his senior career at Toulouse making his Ligue 1 debut for them in November 2015, in October 2017 he was appointed club captain leading the side to the quarter-finals of the French Cup. Diop became West Ham's record signing when the club paid £22 Million for him, although that record was soon eclipsed by the £40 Million signing of Felipe Anderson.

Diop electing to play for France instead of Senegal or Morocco has the massive benefit of him not being away playing in the Africa Cup of Nations tournaments when they are held, the possibility of losing top players to the tournament has always been a massive blight for Premier League teams, with someimes devastating results. For example it is no co-incidence that when Wigan were relegated from the Barclays Premier League they had four key players away on A.C.O.N duties, clubs reliant on African players always have to factor in their unavailability. As he said Diop is only interested inplaying for France, the obvious quality available to the manager of France means that Diop's chances of making the first team may well be limited, however his desire to be the best can only help West Ham as he strives to make it at the highest International level.

The situation is a win win for Hammers' boss Manuel Pellegrini, he gets to see one of his 'starlets' pushing the boundaries in order to elevate himself to another level of performance in order to gain International recognition, it is an ethos that Pellegrini embraces and one that he wants to encourage throughout his squad. Does pushing hard for International recognition remind readers of a similar situation involving another french player, one who was also entitled to play for more than one country, but ended up making his mark for Les Bleues as a result of wearing the Claret and Blue? - Ed


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