After securing the club’s sixth league title in its history, Antonio Conte has started work to make his side more dangerous by splurging the cash before the start of the next season. Chelsea have decided to spend big this summer as well to compete against the Manchester clubs in signing big names.
Conte is expected to buy world class attackers from Spain and Italy but for a centre-back to replace John Terry, the Italian has decided to shop from France. 20-year old Issa Diop has been as a rising French defender who has performed exceedingly well for his club, Toulouse.
Diop has been a Toulouse player since the age of 7 and has risen from the ranks to establish himself as the club’s number one centre-back. He helped his side avoid the drop last season and this year has helped Toulouse to achieve a commendable mid-table finish. He has represented his country at the U21 level as the French coaching staff is hoping for big things from the centre-back. Toulouse are expecting £15 million for their academy graduate as Chelsea are ready to spend on a player who seems to be the real deal.
Diop started 30 league games for the French side this season and has played every minute in all of those matches. He is a traditional tall centre-half and has some impressive defensive statistics like his 1.6 tackles and interceptions per game and 4 clearances per game in Ligue 1.
His best performance this season came in both the league matches against giants Paris Saint-Germain where he was up against the most in-form striker in France – Edinson Cavani and managed to frustrate him on both occasions. Toulouse kept a clean sheet in both the matches against PSG. (Stats via Whoscored)
What’ll he offer the club?
Though he has no experience of playing in a back three that Chelsea have adopted under Conte, Diop’s style of play suggests that he can adapt to it quickly. Standing at six feet three inches, Diop is a beast in the air and never shies away from a tackle or throwing his body for his team’s cause.
He is a fearless defender who can prove to be a smart buy to replace the legend, John Terry. But as any other youngster, discipline and his passing remain a weakness to work on for the 20-year old.
Worth the money?
£15 million won’t be much of an issue for Diop but playing time might be for the youngster. Though Terry will not be there next season, Kurt Zouma and Andreas Christensen might make life difficult for Diop as he might be sent on loan to some English club to get used to the demands of the English football.
There is no doubt about the player’s talents but this move might be a bit too early for him as Diop might become another example of the club’s famous yet flawed loan system.