A few eyebrows were raised when Atalanta and Manchester United came to an agreement for the transfer of 18-year-old Amad Diallo back in October.
The Ivorian had barely made any appearances for La Dea’s first team since joining their academy in 2015, so despite his undisputed talent it really seemed bizarre that one of the Premier League’s powerhouses were ready to splash €25m plus additional €15m in add-ons for him.
Yet, considering Diallo’s potential and the development of the market, the move might prove to be a bargain for United after a couple years. The teenager possesses some rare qualities that significantly distinguish him from the other players at youth level and obviously Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is ready to gamble on him to display those on a Premier League level as well.
Although this would require quite a leap from someone who had managed only five appearances for Atalanta’s senior team, United’s bet seems to be an educated one, as Diallo’s development has been remarkably faster than most players at his age.
In 2014 when he was playing for a local Reggio Emilia youth team Boca Barco in a Christmas tournament, Diallo became the tournament top goalscorer, despite being the youngest player in the competition. It was recently revealed that Amad had trials with Juventus and Roma at the time, but opted to move to Atalanta, where he won two titles and one Suppercoppa Italiana with La Dea’s Primavera.
Obviously, winning trophies with Atalanta’s under-19 team and fighting for the Premier League title is a completely different thing, but a quick look at Diallo’s playing style suggests that the teeneger could do fine in England’s top tier.
Standing at only 1,73 cm the winger has a very low center of gravity, which combined with his quick feet and ability to keep the ball close to his body makes him extremely dangerous in one-on-one situations.
Agility is also key in Diallo’s game, as his body movements are often too quick and deceptive for opposition defenders and allow the Ivorian to find spaces in places where there seem to be none.
All this is showcased by Diallo’s jaw-dropping 7.8 successful dribbles per game for Atalanta’s under-19 side last term, while in 2018 he has completed the unthinkable 11.1 dribbles per game.
While those numbers will undoubtedly drop significantly against the elite defenders of the Premier League, they prove that Diallo can still be an efficient weapon on such level.
What distinguishes Diallo further from the many technically gifted teenagers that are out there is his ability to win the ball in dangerous areas, as he averages 5 recoveries in the opposition half.
The Red Devil’s new acquisition is also very strong with his presumably weaker right foot, which makes defending against him even more tricky.
Considering all this there is little doubt that Atalanta are losing a potential phenomenon, who could’ve easily fitted in Gian Piero Gasperini’s team, especially with club captain Papu Gomez being frozen out.
Gian Piero Gasperini tried to keep Diallo until June, but both the player and Manchester United insisted on the transfer to happen now.
However, let’s not forget that Diallo was brought to Bergamo for nearly nothing and played only 59 minutes across five appearances for Atalanta’s senior team.
Therefore, his €40m move to Manchester United should be added to the long list of tremendous transfer deals done by La Dea in recent years, including Dejan Kulusevski's Juventus transfer.
The Swede is another player with gret potential, but had only played three games with Atalanta senior team before his loan to Parma in summer 2019 and his permanent €44m Juventus move one year ago.