Amad Diallo has been mentioned in only two tweets by the official Manchester United account so far: one to confirm his ‘future transfer’ and the other a story about his first-ever Instagram post; a picture with Paul Pogba posted on December 29 2015.
Pogba still dominates international fortnights, regardless of whether he is doing the talking or not. Diallo provided United fans with some escapism on Instagram through a flurry of Stories that showcased his flair in training with Atalanta.
The footage, filmed by a ‘tactical’ camera, included a step-over, a swivel and a dummy for one goal, a laces finish, a side-footer and a direct dribble led to another strike. The most eye-catching clip was devoid of a goal but captured Diallo exchanging a one-two before dancing past a teammate by nutmegging him. He accompanied the five seconds with a starry-eyed emoji.
It is a pity that has been the only footage of Diallo so far this season. He has not had a kick for Atalanta and been an unused substitute in six of their 10 matches. United are not too despondent about this, as it limits the chance of injury.
Atalanta coach Gian Piero Gasperini has used just 15 players from the start and Diallo is one of 15 other players to have made the bench without coming on. That is skewed by Serie A clubs having 11 substitutes in domestic games but Gasperini made just two out of a possible five substitutions in the Champions League draw with Ajax. He made three changes in the 81st minute of the 5-0 shellacking by Liverpool but Sam Lammers was the preferred attacking alteration and Diallo’s Under-19 teammate Matteo Ruggeri emerged.
On the assumption Diallo moves to Manchester in early January, he only has 10 more matches to be involved in: Spezia, Liverpool, Verona, Midtjylland, Udinese, Ajax, Fiorentina, Juventus, Roma and Bologna. If he travels to Anfield next week, Diallo will be 29 miles away from United’s Carrington training base but he is not scheduled to report while on Champions League duty.
United are still finalising a work permit for Diallo, born in the former Ivory Coast capital of Abidjan before he moved to Italy at a callow age, and sources in Italy warned before the €41million fee was agreed with Atalanta that signing Diallo was ‘not straightforward’.
Despite his playing time in Serie A amounting to 30 minutes, Diallo, a left-footed right winger compared to Lionel Messi, is the kind of top-tier talent United were compelled to pursue amid their search for a solution to their right wing problem position.
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United entered the international break by winning what was arguably their most important match of the season at Everton on Saturday.
The under-pressure Reds came from behind to beat the Toffees thanks to Bruno Fernandes’ double and Edinson Cavani’s first goal for United.
United have a two-week break with many of their stars heading off on international duty – we’ll be keeping tabs on how they all perform, and on preparations for their next Premier League match against West Brom.
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The last time Diallo was in Manchester was when he started against City’s U19s in the Uefa Youth League last year and an eye-witness said he ‘absolutely ran the show’. Diallo skinned Taylor Harwood-Bellis and Eric Garcia to score the clincher in a 3-1 win at the CFA and the intro for the match report on City’s website read: “Amad Traore inspired Atalanta to a 3-1 victory at the Academy Stadium.”
Traore – as Diallo was known back then – was described by City as ‘lightning quick’, with ‘deadly direct running’ and his ‘abundance of pace carved a number of chances’. They are unlikely to be as kind if Traore features in the March derby a goal kick away at the Etihad.
The City coach Paul Harsley admitted after the return leg in Bergamo their plan was to nullify Diallo by denying him the ball as often as possible and stopping him by any means necessary. Diallo was fouled six times, had one touch in the City area and did not manage a shot but Atalanta still prevailed 1-0.
Contrary to a correspondent’s claim United’s interest in Diallo was ‘not true’ and he was bound for Parma, United had clapped eyes on Diallo in an Under-15 match in 2016 and he was continually recommended up to his career debut against Udinese in October 2019, which he scored in.
The club’s head of academy recruitment Dave Harrison, chief scouts Marcel Bout and Jim Lawlor, as well as the technical chief scout Mick Court all filed reports on Diallo’s development. Club sources say Diallo consistently received the highest rankings for academy or developing first-team players.
Come the New Year, United should have three right-sided forwards – all of them teenagers. Mason Greenwood already floats to a more central role and Facundo Pellistri, their other 18-year-old deadline day addition, made the bench against Paris Saint-Germain and appeared for the Under-23s at Leigh last month.
Edinson Cavani has taken fellow Uruguayan Pellistri under his wing, ferrying him to the city centre hotel and Pogba would be the ideal mentor for Diallo on account of his fluent Italian and experience of relocating from northern Italy to northern England.
They’ve already met, too.