Diop
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Diop: From outcast to key man

Publish on 21/02/2021 at 11:03

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At AS Monaco, Sofiane Diop has gone from transfer listed, to one of the first names on the teamsheet.

The 20-year-old attacking midfielder, who was set to be sold in the summer, is the only man to have played in all 26 of the Principality side's league games. With six goals to show for his efforts, Diop has come a long way in just a few months; as recently as July, he was training with the reserves.

But, after being given his chance by Niko Kovac on the opening weekend, the Rennes academy graduate has turned into a key member of Monaco's star-studded side.

"Gaining in experience"

Diop told The Ligue 1 Show on beIN SPORTS: "I'm gaining in experience, and enjoying myself, because it's not every day you get to play with such good players. I try to learn from them every day. Working with them is inspiring, I hope I can follow in their footsteps."

Coach Niko Kovac commented: "He's developing in a good way! This is what we like. We need a winger who is dangerous for the goal, who is helping also in defence, I'm happy with his performance."

These past few months weren't the first of Diop's top flight career. He was thrust onto the scene by Leonardo Jardim in August 2018, before falling out of favour and being loaned out to second division Sochaux last season. Despite a largely successful spell in Ligue 2, Diop's career reached a crossroads on return to the Côte d'Azur last summer, but the French Under-20s international let his talent do the talking.

Midfielder Aurélien Tchouaméni said: "He's a very good player, and he brings something to the table every weekend. Away from the pitch he's a great guy, I've known for some time now, we get on well. Things are going well for him at the moment, I hope it continues!"

Quick-witted, hardworking and efficient in possession, Diop provides an energetic link between defence and attack. His relationship with Niko Kovac is part of the reason he has been given such responsibility. Under the Croatian coach, he knows exactly what is required of him.

"It seems to be working quite well"

Diop said: "To be on the move, to provide options for the ball carrier. It seems to be working quite well! I try to enjoy myself out on the pitch! My team-mates try to make me feel as comfortable as possible, then there I just try to let my creativity do the rest!"

It's never long before talent is noticed at Monaco, and Borussia Dortmund are already said to be keeping tabs on Diop's progress. If he can keep up this level of performance through until the end of the season, Kovac will have a battle on his hands to keep hold of the latest gem to appear in Monte Carlo.

Kovac concluded: "I hope he stays with his feet on the ground and he continues going in the direction he is at the moment going!"