Amad Diallo has reportedly been organising independent training in a bid to get himself in the best possible shape for pre-season. While most players will utilise summer training to prepare themselves physically for the beginning of the new season, Manchester United’s elusive winger has begun this process far earlier.
According to The Athletic, Amad enlisted the help of a coach from the Manchester United Community and Pre-Academy Programme to organise fitness sessions on a local astroturf pitch. The Ivorian was then joined by Brandon Williams and Dion McGhee, a former academy player.
Amad is evidently approaching United’s pre-season not as the stereotypical gruelling fitness campaign, but rather as an audition; a chance to impress Erik ten Hag and make a stake in United’s first-team next season.
The Athletic reports this summer holds “significant sway” on where Amad will play his football next year, as the 21-year-old is yet to “receive guarantees” on whether he will be sent out on loan again.
Ten Hag is said to want to take a “closer look” at the winger, who returned to Manchester following a successful season at Sunderland. Amad was nominated for the Championship Young Player of the Year and won Sunderland’s own version of the prize, scoring 14 goals and providing 3 assists as he helped his adopted club reach the playoffs.
Even so, Amad’s individual performances may not ultimately determine his future next season. Instead, United’s transfer business may hold the key.
Erik ten Hag has made little secret of his desire for a new number nine. Rasmus Højlund has emerged as the primary target, with the player himself “prioritising” a move ten Hag is reportedly equally keen on.
Atalanta will strike a hard bargain however, particularly for a striker as relatively unproven as Højlund. A price of £85 million has been reported which seems out of proportion for a forward who returned nine league goals in thirty-two games last season.
If United are unsuccessful in their striking recruitment, Ten Hag may turn to Marcus Rashford. The Englishman operated effectively in that position last season, essentially single-handedly carrying an otherwise impotent United attack. The only striking Wout Weghorst performed was fear into the Stretford End.
The Athletic contends Rashford’s ‘redeployment as a number nine would open up space on the wings’; space the diminutive Amad would categorically fill.
But if a striker is signed, as is expected, the Ivorian would be in contention with Rashford, Garnacho, Sancho, and Antony for a spot on the wing – five players competing for two positions. Following the season Amad just delivered in Tyne and Wear, a return to the bench appears ill-advised.
His long-term future at Old Trafford may, therefore, be best secured by ensuring his short-term future lies elsewhere, free to express his prodigious talents as an undisputed first-choice and continue his overall development.
Regardless of what happens over the coming weeks, reports of Amad’s independent training are encouraging. While the winger’s technical abilities are unquestioned, the dedication and desire to make a mark physically in pre-season bodes extremely well for his future under Ten Hag – a manager famed for holding character and conditioning in the highest esteem.