It’s a blessing in disguise, perhaps, that Atalanta winger Amad Diallo is only linking up with Manchester United now after officially signing for the club on deadline day in October. The Red Devils have got their act together a little since then - and anyway, fans needed time to digest such a strange finale to the window shutting.
The 18-year-old has been handed Marcus Rashford’s old No.19 shirt and will be integrated from now until the end of the season. With United on an upwards trajectory of late and fixtures coming thick and fast this month, don’t be surprised if Diallo starts appearing off the bench - Ole Gunner Solksjaer has shown, after all, that he’s not afraid of dropping youngsters into the mix whenever they show the ability.
With such little playing time under his belt though, what can United fans expect from the teenage Ivorian? Who is he and what makes him tick?
1. Two-footed and comfortable creating
Man United’s wing options are interesting, to say the least. Obviously Rashford and Martial can operate in wide berths; Mason Greenwood is primarily a goalscorer, while Juan Mata is still effective from the right-hand side. Even Paul Pogba’s played left-wing.
Amad Diallo is very good with both feet. He plays on the right and the stats suggest that he’s equally as comfortable taking chances himself as he is creating them. The alternative to Jadon Sancho? Such an inexperienced Plan B suggests that Solskjaer either has a lot of faith in him developing into something world-class or he’s one for the next five years - maybe he’ll be Sancho level when Sancho is making the transfer after next, even. It’s that long-term.
Still, the signs are that he’s a lot more rounded than a lot of United’s current wide-men. He’s still developing too and may be moulded into one thing or another before then.
2. Don't call him Traore
In flurry of deadline day excitement, Amad Diallo was labelled Amad Diallo Traore by just about everyone. His brother is called Hamad Traore. But he wants to go by Diallo.
On his 18th birthday, the winger changed his Instagram name from “Amad Traoré” to “Amad Diallo”, with a caption reading, “don't call me Traoré anymore”, while two months later, he legally changed his name.
Given how many Traores there are - notably fellow Premier League winger Adama - that seems like a wise move, branding-wise. Just no one tell him about Abdou Diallo…
3. When Amad met Paul
A photo posted by on
Amad Diallo already knows a couple of the lads at the Carrington training ground. Well, sort of.
Back when Paul Pogba was at Juventus, Diallo met the Frenchman and got his photo - now he’ll be playing alongside the World Cup winner. He’s also chatted with fellow Ivorian Eric Bailly ahead of his move to England, claiming, “He’s a top man. I speak with him and speak with the family.”
It seems likely that Bailly will take the youngster under his wing at United.
4. Diallo could play for two countries
Diallo was born in Abidjan, the capital of Ivory Coast. So far, he’s not actually represented his nation - even in youth football - though his 20-year-old midfielder brother Hamad has played for Les Elephantes’ U23 side.
Amad Diallo is, of course, eligible to play for Ivory Coast too, but having left Africa when he was 10 years to come to Italy, he is also able to play for the Azzurri. His mother took the two boys over to Europe, though their dad stayed in Ivory Coast to run a football school.
Diallo had trials with Juventus and both Milan clubs as youngsters, before finding a place at lower-league Lucchese. His talent shone through, though - it wasn’t long before Boca Barco signed him. Eventually, Atalanta came knocking.
5. Serie A record-breaker
𝗗𝗜𝗔𝗟 1️⃣9️⃣ for Amad 📞#MUFC @AmadDiallo79January 8, 2021
Diallo is a fast starter in life. His goal against Udinese on his debut made him the youngest Serie A netter ever.
This was back in October 2019, when Diallo was just 17, making him the first player born after the 2002 World Cup to have ever scored in the division. He’s so young that he was just 11 days old when Rio Ferdinand joined Manchester United. Only Teden Mengi is younger in the United first-team squad.
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