It’s now apparent that Wigan Athletic made some very astute signings in the close season, which has helped to propel Paul Cook’s team to within touching distance of the top of the Championship table.
Amongst the new signings and loan deals are Lee Evans, Christian Walton, Reece James and Antonee Robinson who have all been outstanding but probably the most impressive addition has been Ivorian centre-half Cedric Kipre.
The 21-year-old Ivory Coast Under-23 international has signed a three-year deal with Latics after joining from Motherwell. During his time at Fir Park, he was an ever present and helped the club to both the Scottish FA Cup and Scottish League Cup finals in his first full season.
The Paris-born defender came through the youth ranks at Paris St Germain before moving to Leicester City but he never made a first team appearance while at the King Power Stadium.
Kipre only signed for Latics a day before the Championship opener against Sheffield Wednesday but has quickly slotted into the injured vice-captain Dan Burn’s position.
The big man with the distinctive dyed blonde hair has helped Latics to move into the play-off places with some magnificent defensive displays.
Kipre has been ever present in the team, which conceded seven goals in the first three games but has only conceded four goals in the last six.
The French man has done exceptionally well to quickly form such a strong defensive partnership with Chey Dunkley.
The 6 ft 3 in defender has been dominant in the aerial challenges and is able to cover quickly when needed, for example when getting back to make a goal-saving tackle to dispossess Andreas Weimann against Bristol City last Friday night.
He is technically very competent on the ball and does not panic when under pressure. He has put in some accomplished displays and has shown that he is more than capable of handling the physical demands of the second tier.
He was Man of the match against Rotherham and the expectation is that there will be many more.
Kipre was signed for a fee in the region of £1m but it could prove to be the best £1m Latics have spent in a long time.
It is still early days for him in the Championship but I’m sure he’s already attracting interest from Premier League clubs after such an auspicious start to the campaign and if he can maintain this high level of performance Latics will soon have to repel some significant transfer bids.
Kipre is still young at 21-years-old and has huge potential to get better but all the indications are that Latics have unearthed an Ivorian gem.