Manchester United have been scouting Atalanta talent Amad Diallo Traore for ‘over a year,’ confirms Giovanni Galli, the man who set the Traore brothers’ career in motion, in this exclusive interview with Football Italia.
Milan and Fiorentina legend Giovanni Galli is the man who discovered the Traore brothers. The younger, Amad Diallo Traore, is set to join Manchester United in January’s €40m move. “The Red Devils had been scouting him for over a year,” Galli tells Football Italia editor Lorenzo Bettoni.
Born in 2002, Amad Diallo Traore is one of the most exciting prospects in Italy, but has only three appearances and one goal in Serie A. His brother Hamed Junior is two years older and plays for Sassuolo. Galli is the first person who spotted them a few years ago.
A true icon of Italian football, Galli is considered one of the best goalkeepers of the ‘80s. His personal trophy cabinet proves it: two Champions Leagues, one Intercontinental Cup, one Uefa Supercup, one Serie A Title, two Italian Supercups, one Coppa Uefa and the 1982 World Cup with Italy.
Galli hung up his boots in 1996 and back in 2014 he was appointed as Lucchese’s Sporting Director. A few years later he received a call from one of his friends who asked him: “Are you around to have lunch together?”
What happened then?
“He arrived with another person and two young kids. He told me: ‘These two guys are good, you should give them a trial.’ They were the Traore brothers. They did the first trial on that same day and trained for a couple of days with one of our youth teams. You could immediately tell they were way better than all the other players we had.”
Did you sign them then?
“No, they were too good for our level and I couldn’t sign non-EU players. My friend asked if I could help them find them a team, so I made a couple of calls. That is all I did really. I watched them and I made calls. I know they eventually joined Empoli and Atalanta but I’ve never spoken with them again afterwards.”
What did impress you?
“Their quality was incredible. They trained with the guys born in 1999. Hamed Junior was born in 2000 and his brother Amad was born in 2002. Despite that, there was a huge gap between them and the others. Amad was tremendous. Great technical skills, outstanding personality. The way they touched the ball was different, they did nutmegs and all that. They were on another level.”
Did you know about Manchester United interest in Amad Diallo?
“Yes, I did. I knew they had been scouting him for over a year. I know a scout of Manchester United very well as we usually meet at games. He used to tell me that the club sent him several times to watch the player.”
The price tag is extremely high. Did it surprise you?
“It is high, but there is a reason behind it. Traore still needs to get a work permit since he has not played with his national team yet. The club need to have valid reasons to take him to the UK. One reason is that the player is coming from a top team and with Atalanta that have been playing international competitions over the last few years, there are no problems to prove it. The second reason is the price tag. A €40m signing means he is an important investment for the club. If the cost would be €1 or 2m it may have been more difficult to get the work permit. That being said, €40m is still a lot of money.”
Are you impressed with Atalanta’s planning? They got more than €80m for the sales of two players, Diallo to Manchester United and Dejan Kulusevski to Juventus, who had had just six combined appearances with the senior team.
“Atalanta are a serious club, with very competent people and the results are out there. Clubs like Milan, Juve and Inter have the pressure of winning at all costs, Atalanta do not. They took their time to create this project and the sporting results are the consequence of their planning. If they were eliminated from the Champions League last season, no one would complain. Eventually, they did a miracle in the last games of the group stage, but they did it without that kind of pressure. Look what happened at Juventus when Lyon sent them out.”
What has the future got in store for Atalanta?
“They have time to plan ahead. They signed Sam Lammers in the summer and he is going to be one of the next Serie A stars. They also have Aleksey Miranchuk who will need time to replace Papu Gomez. The club has a winning philosophy. They sign players who can be useful for a certain system and for their coach. If they receive a €50m bid for Duvan Zapata they can think about selling him because they already have Lammers. It is all about planning and having a manager who can add value to the player he has, even if Gian Piero Gasperini is not a coach who is known for his subtlety. If he likes a player, he can bring him from 10 to 50, but if he does not like him, the player won’t see the pitch too often.”
Traore did see the pitch in Serie A, but for less than 30 minutes in total. Enough time for him to score his first and only goal in the league against Udinese one year ago. Next January a new chapter of his career will start, a career that also begun thanks to the precious help of Galli.