Senegal’s Papa Bouba Diop has been compared to Juventus and France’s Patrick Vieira by Fulham manager Chris Coleman.

The Fulham boss also says that he is determined not to let Diop and several of his other key players leave the club in the January transfer window.

Diop was a key player as Fulham beat Blackburn Rovers 2-1 on Saturday.

He capped a fine match with a neat finish at the near post to steer in Luis Boa Morte’s free-kick.

The 27-year-old midfielder had to be substituted during the second half with an ankle knock, but is expected to be fit for the hectic festive schedule before heading off to next month’s African Nations Cup.

“He has got great feet, scores goals, defends well, tackles, has got good pace and I can’t think of another player in the league with his stature and ability,” Coleman said after the game.

There was one, but he has gone to Juventus,” he added referring to the Senegal-born Vieira, who joined the Italian side from Arsenal earlier this year.

Coleman is determined to keep hold of Diop, Boa Morte and French midfielder Steed Malbranque when the January transfer window starts.

The Fulham boss is all too aware of the interest being shown in his key men, with Manchester City, Newcastle and Arsenal all said to be among the admirers.

“It is important for us to keep hold of our best players,” he said.

“Unfortunately for us there are certain teams in the league who have got a lot of money, a lot of pulling power and we have to compete with that, so I am a realist.

“If the unthinkable happens and somebody comes knocking, then it is going to have to be a lot, lot of money.

“Because the players we have got – like Boa Morte, Malbranque, Diop – they are unique players.

“They are not three players who are disgruntled or unhappy. You can see how much they give to us when they play.

“They enjoy it and I see them everyday on the training pitch, and I am confident they are going to be here.”