In October 2020, Amad Diallo, the young Ivorian footballer, was signed by Manchester United for a deal worth £37m. Then at 18 years old, he had only played nine times and scored a single goal for his ex-club, Atalanta.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was at the helm for United and was convinced of the long-term value the teenager would bring.
He hailed Amad as ‘one of the most exciting young prospects in the game’ (via Manchester Evening News).
Amad was inducted into the Red Devils Under-21s, but after four short months, was given his debut for the first team. His debut was against Real Sociedad in the Europa League, and a few weeks later, he scored against AC Milan.
Last January, Amad was shipped away to Rangers on loan but managed just four starts for the Scottish club. United then decided the best way to ensure Amad’s continued development this season would be to loan him out to Sunderland. The Black Cats signed him in August.
After blowing hot and cold for the club, Amad found his feet. Thriving on loan at Sunderland, he has found the back of the net seven times in his last 13 appearances.
Manchester Evening writer Steven Railston sat down with Sunderland Echo writer Joe Nicholson to learn more about the starlet from a source much closer to the club. The inside scoop offered five exciting takeaways about the United youth’s progress at Sunderland.
Tony Mowbray and Amad are a great match
New head coach Tony Mowbray has built a reputation for cultivating young talent – those from the academy and on loan.
The two already appear to be a good fit, according to Nicholson. Nicholson has witnessed the club invest in other young players like Abdoullah Ba, Jewison Bennette, and Edouard Michut.
Versatile but prolific on the flank
Like any player, the Ivorian starlet needed time to adjust to his new surroundings and team. Since then, he has become one of the leading choices for the starting XI.
Initially deployed as a centre-forward, Amad battled to impose himself on games but began to excel once he played down the right flank.
Playing down the wing allowed him to cut inside and wreak havoc with his favoured left foot.
Recently, he has shown promise as No 10 in the absence of the injured Alex Pritchard. Amad also pairs well with Patrick Roberts, who returned to the team to play on the right wing.
A fan favourite
The United loanee has already endeared himself to the Wearside faithful, who chant his name often before and after games.
They admire his skill, willingness to take on players, and energy. Not only does he provide entertainment, but the seven goals he’s notched in his last 13 league games show he produces too. Supporters will be disappointed to see him leave at the end of his loan term.
Strengths and weaknesses
Nicholson appeared to have little difficulty rattling off Amad’s strengths: exceptional ball control, dribbling, link-up play, and an eye for goal.
However, when it came to his weaknesses, one area of improvement came to mind – defending. Still young, the starlet must be more aware of his defensive duties and positioning.
Premier League pedigree
Railston then enquired if Amad could realistically challenge for a place in a top-flight side. The response was positive, but Nicholson added that whether the team would be the Red Devils was still uncertain.
What is for sure is that Amad is an exciting talent for the future.