Teenage sensation Amad Diallo is finally joining up with Manchester United after agreeing a £40million move in the summer.
After spending all season hoping Borussia Dortmund would lower their asking price for Jadon Sancho, Diallo was one of four players brought in by the Red Devils towards the end of the transfer window.
But anyone thinking of Diallo as a panic buy or a runner’s up prize to the England international could be in for a rude awakening.
The 18-year-old winger has been described by some as a “generational talent” and one of the best players in the world at his age.
He made such an impression at Atlanta in the first half of the season that boss Gian Piero Gasperini was eager to keep him for longer, only for Man United to insist on the move.
This would lead you to believe Diallo will feature straight away in the Man United first-team, but Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is so far keeping his cards close to his chest.
“I’ve seen there’s been lots of expectations on Amad and rightly so, an exciting player with fantastic attributes we look forward to developing. It’s important we give him that time to settle in, if it’s in the under-23s or if he looks ready to go into the first team, I don’t know yet.”Ole Gunnar Solskjaer
Not much data exists for us to be able to read much into Diallo’s game, having played just under an hour of senior team football in two appearances.
But already in this time, the youngster got himself onto the scoresheet in Atalanta’s 7-1 demolition of Udinese, cutting in from the right to score with his left foot.
Footage shared widely on social media shows Diallo loves to get the ball on the right hand side before dribbling inside and taking on the full-back.
As for his playing style, former teammates at Atalanta have gone as far as to describe him in the same breath as Lionel Messi.
“He plays like Messi. There are defenders in the first team that sometimes cannot stop him. To stop him in training we have to kick him.”Papu Gomez
In a piece on The Athletic, Wyscout determine Diallo’s key attributes as excellent close control, a low centre of gravity and lightning quick acceleration.
And far from a one-trick-pony, special mention is given to his ability to go on the outside of the full-back and cross the ball well with his right foot.
According to Wyscout figures, Diallo has attempted 9.01 dribbles per 90 minutes, which is a high amount even for a winger.
The wonderkid is also not fouled very often, showing a hidden strength despite his diminutive appearance and a preference for riding tackles.
All of the above persuaded Solskjaer to part with a large amount for a player relatively untested at senior level, watching him personally in the UEFA Youth League where he terrorised Manchester City.
“We have followed Amad for a number of years and having watched him myself, I believe he is one of the most exciting young prospects in the game. Manchester United has a proud history of developing young players and everything is in place to enable Amad to reach his potential here. It will take him time to adapt but his speed, vision and fantastic dribbling ability will stand him in good stead to make the transition. He is a player with all of the raw attributes that are needed to be an important player for Manchester United in the years to come.”Ole Gunnar Solskjaer
Judging by Ole’s words above, it sounds like Diallo is going to be eased in this season, rather than jumping straight in to the first team set-up.
It may be worth noting another promising winger, Facundo Pellistri (£5.2m), signed in the summer, has yet to feature in the Premier League and has mainly been playing at an Under-23 level.
However, should Diallo impress in training and at the lower levels, the Red Devils’ struggles on the right hand side of their attack may force Solskjaer’s hand in introducing Diallo early.
Mason Greenwood (£7.1m) has struggled to replicate the form he showed last season on the right, and his game suggests he is more suited to a role through the middle.
Marcus Rashford (£9.6m), Dan James (£6.2m) and Juan Mata (£5.8m) have also been trialled with limited success down United’s right-hand side, with Ole even opting to ditch winger completely in some games and move to a midfield diamond.
But the diamond does not look like it will be a long-term solution, with Solskjaer stating on numerous occasions about how he wants his sides to play with pace and width.
And United hit a purple patch of form with Greenwood in the side last season, allowing him and Rashford to cut inside from wide and Anthony Martial (£8.8m) to play through the middle.
Diallo’s game looks like it suits this system perfectly and he could find himself gaining minutes sooner rather than later and in one of the league’s most potent attacks.
Assuming Diallo comes in around the same value as Pellistri, this puts him in direct competition with a budget enablers such as Tomas Soucek (£5.2m) at West Ham and Raphinha (5.5m) of Leeds.
Without more to go on, it’s difficult to make a case to add Diallo to our teams until we get an idea of how Ole is going to incorporate him.
But should Diallo hit the ground running, he may ironically turn into last season’s Mason Greenwood, the man he is tipped to replace on the right-wing.
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