By Noel Whelan

10th Jan, 2021 | 9:56am

'Incredible...Can West Ham afford to let him go?' - Pundit on another potential mega sale

Issa Diop must stay — West Ham would be stupid to let a player who once cost £22m go in January and risk upsetting the rhythm of a resurgent side.

That is according to former Milwall forward Noel Whelan, speaking exclusively to Football Insider correspondent Dylan Childs amid top-four interest in the French centre-back.

Diop has been linked with Spurs, Liverpool, West Brom and Nice in recent weeks, with both permanent and loan deals touted.

The 24-year-old missed the two weeks of football earlier in the season after a positive Covid-19 test and has struggled to get back into the first-team ever since.

But Whelan believes Diop is still a quality player and that the Hammers could risk upsetting their positive momentum if they follow up Friday’s £20million Sebastien Haller sale by letting him go.

Asked whether he thought Diop might leave the club before the end of the transfer window, Whelan told Football Insider: “It’s possible. January’s one of these strange sorts of windows isn’t it. But the turnaround at West Ham’s been pretty incredible. Especially the win away at Everton, I thought there was no way but they got another great three points.

Subscribe to Football Insider TV now

“They seem to be really riding the crest of the wave at the moment, putting in some good performances, becoming hard to beat.

“With Diop, can you afford to let a quality player like that leave when you’re doing so well? I’m not so sure. As a squad of players when you’re doing really well, you don’t wanna let your best players leave.

“Confidence wise, that can be very detrimental unless you’ve got someone with the same quality who’s gonna come in and make that difference.”

Diop signed for West Ham from Toulouse in June 2018 in a £22million deal, a club record at the time.

Since then, he has played 78 times for the club across all competitions, scoring five goals in the process.

In other news, West Ham have been knocked back in their pursuit of Sebastien Haller replacement from Ligue 1, Football Insider can reveal.