Manchester United’s first arrival this month isn’t a January signing, but instead a young man they snapped up months ago.
Amad Diallo technically joined the club in the previous transfer window, staying at Atalanta on loan for the first half of the season. The £37million deal, which will cost United £19million and up to £18m in add-ons, went through after Diallo passed a medical and agreed personal terms on Thursday.
But, after officially completing his big-money move to Old Trafford, little is known about the 18-year-old winger… so Sportsmail is here to tell all.
Amad Diallo completed his £37million move to Manchester United on Thursday
The Red Devils announced the signing on Thursday by welcoming the youngster to the club
So who is he?
Diallo was born in Abidjan, the largest city of the Ivory Coast, but moved to Italy at a young age with his younger brother – now also a footballer with Sassuolo.
He started out at Boca Barco in 2014 at the age of 12, where he was quickly spotted by a host of Serie A clubs, who then tried to snap him up. In 2015, he signed for Atalanta and joined up with their Under 14s.
All through the age groups, he continued to impress – scoring for the Under 15s and Under 17s in big national tournaments. The 2018-19 season was his breakthrough, as he netted 12 goals for the U17s, before moving up to the U19s and adding another six goals and six assists to help them win the league.
Diallo was born in the Ivory Coast and has risen through the ranks at Serie A side Atalanta
His first-team debut came in October 2019, when he came off the bench against Udinese in the 79th minute and just minutes later he had his first goal, with the team eventually running out 7-1 winners.
He was the first player born in the year 2002 to score in Serie A, and has since gone from strength to strength, although not always getting the game-time he will have wanted.
This season he has played less, only featuring in one Serie A match from the bench, but Atalanta were still desperate to extend his loan deal through until the end of the season.
United say no, though, and he will now continue his career in the north west of England…
He posted a picture of himself boarding a private jet earlier this week ahead of his move
What sort of player is he?
A winger by trade, but as has become natural with players in that position in recent years, he has a tendency to drift inside and take opponents on.
He is known for being excellent with both feet, and contributes both goals and assists, as shown by his debut performance for Atalanta.
He is pacy too, which helps with his ability to go past players and create goalscoring opportunities.
He also had a trick or two in his locker, wowing fans of both Atalanta and now Manchester United with clips of him dazzling in training and youth matches.
Stepovers, drag-backs… you name it, he’s got it.
As a child, Diallo poses for a photo with Paul Pogba – who is now his team-mate at United
Diallo tweeted himself saying he couldn’t wait to get started as a Manchester United player
In truth though, little has been seen of him on the highest stage, so he still has the element of surprise in that opponents don’t know much about him.
That said, everyone is well aware of the £37m price tag, so all eyes will certainly be focused on him.
Diallo is unlikely to go straight into the first team at United but he is really highly-rated
Will he go straight into the first team?
He’s only actually played five times for Atalanta, two of which this season, so it would be difficult to expect him to jump straight into a title battle at the top of the Premier League.
Realistically he is a player United will look to nurture over the next few seasons, but there is clearly promise there, shown by the price tag alone. A £37m fee is a lot to pay for a player with only a handful of senior appearances.
That said, United’s extensive scouting network have watched him a lot and believe he is set to be a future superstar. In fact, head of academy recruitment Dave Harrison, chief scouts Marcel Bout and Jim Lawlor, and technical chief scout Mick Court all reported on the player.
What are people saying about him?
As is perhaps expected, he has drawn praise from a number of different big names both in youth football and after coming through to the senior game.
Former Italy goalkeeper Giovanni Galli, credited by some as the man who discovered both Amad Diallo and his brother, spoke to Football Italia back in October.
Then the Lucchese sporting director, he tells the story about how a friend asked to have lunch with him, turning up with two young boys – the Diallo brothers.
‘He told me: “These two guys are good, you should give them a trial.” They were the Traore [their previous name] 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.’
Galli admits that they were ‘too good’ for the level of his team and he wasn’t able to sign non-EU players, so therefore made some calls and eventually they were signed for Empoli and Atalanta.
One of his Atalanta team-mates Papu Gomez likened Diallo’s ability to that of Lionel Messi
Of Amad, he continued: ‘He 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.’
Current Atalanta team-mate Papu Gomez has also lavished praise upon Diallo’s shoulders, likening him to a certain Barcelona superstar.
‘He’s a future star, trust me. During our training, he seems like [Lionel] Messi! You can’t stop him.’
Does he play international football?
Not yet, but that is certainly likely to change in the coming months and years. Although born in the Ivory Coast, recent reports from Sky in Italy claim that he has now been granted an Italian passport.
That means that, upon his arrival in Manchester, he will eligible to play for either the Ivory Coast or Italy.
He has not played any international football previously, at any youth levels, but will surely have both national teams knocking at his door in 2021.