Arnaud Djoum has vowed to do everything in his power to help Loick Ayina fulfil his potential while at Dundee United.
Djoum, a fellow French-speaker and vastly experienced midfielder, has taken the young centre-back under his wing following Ayina’s deadline day arrival from Huddersfield Town.
Given the Cameroon internationalist has lined up in Belgium, the Netherlands, Turkey, Poland, Saudi Arabia and Cyprus, he is VERY aware of the importance of finding a nurturing teammate who can help one settle in unfamiliar surroundings.
And, as well as being won over by Ayina’s happy-go-lucky personality, Djoum reckons he has the quality to make an impact between now and May.
With captain Ryan Edwards suspended for today’s Scottish Cup showdown against Kilmarnock, Ayina could very well get an opportunity to showcase those attributes.
“I see Loick’s potential as a footballer, so I want to do whatever I can to help him reach that,” said Djoum. “He’s a good lad and likes to smile and joke. He is a strong signing. He knows the British game, is quick and I think he is going to be a good addition.
“I have looked after him, directly. I was pleased to see another French speaker arrive — there are not too many here!
“If there is anything I can do to help him settle, I will. I am always available to speak and make sure he feels at home.
“That is something that is very important. I have been there. I have travelled a lot during my career and, wherever I went, there would be people who helped and took care of me. When I see a young player I can help; that is just a pleasure to me.”
Scottish Cup memories
Djoum did not feature in United’s 3-0 victory over University of Stirling in the previous round, meaning his last appearance in the Scottish Cup remains the 2018/19 final with Hearts.
It is something special to be in the final; Hampden in the sunshine in the summer, in front of your supporters.
The Jambos were leading 1-0 going into the final 30 minutes, only for an Odsonne Edouard double to seal a late turnaround.
Djoum left Tynecastle for Al Sadd during that summer but believes he can get back to that Hampden stage with United.
“As a team like Dundee United, we always plays in this competition to get as far as possible,” he continued. “If you play good games and are lucky sometimes, then you can get to the semi-final, final or even win the Scottish Cup. Anything can happen. It is open.
“My memories in this competition are nice. A Scottish Cup final was my last game for Hearts and I will always have that game in my mind. We came very close to lifting the trophy and it would be nice to have the same sort of experience at Dundee United.
“It is something special to be in the final; Hampden in the sunshine in the summer, in front of your supporters.”
Before such heady aspirations, United must overcome Kilmarnock.
This will be the FIFTH meeting of the sides this season, with the most recent outing ending in a 1-0 win to Killie at Rugby Park.
However, Djoum is far from downbeat, insisting the progress made following the World Cup break has not been undone by a tough couple of weeks.
“After the break, we played good games and picked up important results,” continued Djoum. “Everything doesn’t change in one week.
“We played three games in a week and they didn’t go our way — but everything that went before doesn’t just go in the bin. We stick together, work hard and try to get good results.”
Given Killie are likely to be a relegation rival in the coming weeks, Djoum added: “This can be a kind of revenge. We have to show them that, at home, we are not the same team that played at Rugby Park.
“We want to win the game and show that we can be better than them. If we play against them in the future, it can be important, mentally, to get in their head.”