Amad Diallo confirmed on his social media account that he would not be departing Manchester United to play in the African Cup of Nations as had been reported by Sky Sports.
The media outlet released a breakdown of all the Premier League players who will be departing their clubs to play in the tournament. Under United’s section, Amad was included alongside Andre Onana and Sofyan Amrabat.
The 21-year-old winger then took to X (formerly known as Twitter) to refute this.
— Amad🇨🇮 (@Amaddiallo_19) January 2, 2024
“Not true..!” Amad wrote in response to a United fan tagging a player in a screenshot from the Sky Sports article. The article has now been amended in light of the winger’s update.
It constitutes a potentially fortuitous moment for his manager, however. Erik ten Hag has struggled to find a consistent option on the right wing this season; the position a revolving door of trial and error, with more emphasis on the error.
Antony – signed at great expense last summer – is yet to convince anyone he’s a Premier League-worthy winger, let alone a United one. Jadon Sancho is drawing closer to an exit from Old Trafford, having not played for the first team since his public dispute with Ten Hag in September. And Facundo Pellistri is high on energy and low on quality.
Marcus Rashford has played on the right at times but he rarely looks interested in football when deployed there, let alone effective with one. Similarly, Alejandro Garnacho feels a more comfortable fit on the left given his right-footedness.
Which is why Amad’s cameo in the 2-1 loss to Nottingham Forest was a bright spot amidst ninety minutes of dreariness.
The Ivorian winger has been ruled out for the entirety of the season having sustained a knee injury during the club’s pre-season tour of America. It constituted desperately unlucky timing for Amad given how strong a season he produced at Sunderland last year in conjunction with the struggles of every other right-winger at the club this year.
He would have been given far more opportunities on the right if not for that cruel intervention this summer; and based on how positive the 21-year-old looked in the thirty-six minutes on Saturday, he would have grabbed them with both hands.
Reports have strongly linked Amad with a loan move in January. Southampton were thought to be leading the charge for his services but a host of other teams are reported to hold similar interest.
With the winger not departing this month for the African Cup of Nations, it would be a categorical mistake to let him leave Old Trafford full stop. Amad should be given the chance to stake his claim on the right-hand side while Sancho and Pellistri depart in his place.
There was a confidence and incisiveness to Amad’s play against Forest which, considering it was his first taste of senior football in over six months, was as impressive as it was refreshing in comparison to the player he replaced (Antony). A report by The Peoples Person explains this stark contrast in greater detail here.
This video below further demonstrates the difference between the two; one quick and decisive, the other flamboyant and slow.
Amad vs Antony pic.twitter.com/JxLTX1rr0l
— Godwin 🦅 (@Ejeh4_2) December 29, 2023
It’s a difference Ten Hag must recognise and take advantage of this month and beyond.