Happy Diop aiming to extend perfect Angers record

Issa Diop has fond memories of facing West Ham United’s final pre-season opponents SCO Angers.

The towering French defender is unbeaten in five career appearances against Les Scoïstes, winning four and scoring the decisive goal in a 1-0 Ligue 1 victory at the Stade Raymond Kopa last season.

Diop is optimistic he can extend that impressive run to six matches when the Hammers tackle the team which finished 14th in the French top flight.


Issa Diop celebrates scoring the winning goal for Toulouse against Angers last season


“Angers is a good team in France,” he observed, looking ahead to Friday’s fixture in the Austrian town of Grodig. “They are very strong and very good defensively. With the ball, they are also good, so it’s a good test for us before the Premier League.

“When I play against this team, I never lose, so I hope we don’t lose!

“When I play against these opponents, I’m lucky, so I hope we get a good victory, a lot of goals and a clean sheet.”

Diop has featured in all five pre-season fixtures so far, lining up alongside Angelo Ogbonna, Declan Rice and fellow new boy Fabian Balbuena.

With Manuel Pellegrini likely to play with four at the back to kick-off the season, just two of that quartet can start in central defence at Liverpool on Sunday 12 August – but the young Frenchman says competition will only raise the standards of those concerned.

The players are funny, so it’s good for my integration and I thank them all for this

Issa Diop

“All the players are good here so it’s easy to play with good players. Of course, it’s good experience.

“It’s good to have competition for everybody. Everybody needs to do their best in training to play and the best play, which is normal. We train hard to play.”

Following Friday’s Angers test, the Hammers head for Merseyside to face the UEFA Champions League runners-up – a match the centre-back is desperate to feature in.

“I want to play. Everybody wants to play in Anfield!

“It’s a historic stadium and historic club so it’s a good moment to play in Anfield for every football player, so I hope I play and we win!”


The defender (on bike) is enjoying being part of the West Ham United squad


The 21-year-old may have never played for anyone other than his hometown club Toulouse before, but he is quickly settling into life in Claret and Blue.

Diop thanked his teammates for making it easy for him to feel at home in east London, with fellow countryman Arthur Masuaku proving particularly welcoming.

“I’m very happy. The people here are very good and I’m very happy to be here. All my teammates are good with me. The players are funny, so it’s good for my integration and I thank them all for this.”

“Arthur has helped me a lot. If I don’t understand something or I need something, he is here for me and he is very good for me.

“He [looks very serious] but Arthur is not serious, he is very funny! In French we say he has a carapace, which is like a mask! He’s very funny.”