After a disastrous start to the season and another underwhelming transfer window, there is an inevitable feeling of doom and gloom at Manchester United.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side tried but failed to sign pretty much every right-sided forward under the sun during the summer – and a 6-1 defeat at home to Jose Mourinho’s Tottenham didn’t exactly lift morale.
Deadline-day moves for Alex Telles, Edinson Cavani and Facundo Pellistri unsurprisingly failed to appease disgruntled United supporters, with executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward currently the least popular figure in the red half of Manchester.
While the cocktail of issues creates a rather bleak outlook, there was one piece of transfer business that may disperse the dark clouds hanging over Old Trafford.
Amad Diallo, otherwise known as Amad Traore, looked set to join Parma on transfer deadline day in a move that failed to raise any eyebrows.
After all, this is a player who has only played 24 minutes of Serie A football to date and – despite scoring on his debut – was a relatively unknown figure outside of Italy until recently.
— Atalanta B.C. (@Atalanta_BC) March 27, 2020
However, the move to Parma collapsed in the final stages, opening the door for the Red Devils to swoop in, with the deal set to be completed in January 2021 due to work permit issues.
United fans from across the world immediately began typing on their keyboards and looking for video compilations, hoping to find a glimpse of their new signing.
While his lack of senior football certainly made things difficult for YouTube editors, his performances for Atalanta’s youth teams give an insight into why United agreed to pay an initial £19million for his services.
The 18-year-old made 31 goal contributions in 42 appearances for their Under-19s in 2018-19, including a stunning goal in a 3-0 win over AC Milan in March 2019.
After providing the assist for Atalanta’s opener in Milan, he sensed an opportunity and picked up the ball before driving into a crowded penalty area.
Faced by three imposing defenders, most players would try to keep hold of the ball and wait for support from their team-mates, but as you’ll see, Diallo isn’t most players.
Showcasing the flair and creativity that makes him such a highly-rated prospect, the winger produced an excellent pirouette to avoid the first challenge.
He then takes another touch before firing past the goalkeeper and wheeling away in celebration, leaving the stunned defenders in his wake.
— Sportitalia (@tvdellosport) March 30, 2019
And Diallo has already proven he can do it on a cold day in Manchester. Well, kind of.
In October 2019, he headed to the North West of England for the first time for a UEFA Youth League clash with United’s arch-rivals Manchester City.
With Atalanta leading 2-1, he pounced on a loose ball and skipped past two City players before finding the back of the net, drawing similarities with a certain Barcelona star.
“He plays like Messi,” Atalanta captain Papu Gomez later said in an Instagram Q&A. “There are defenders in the first team that sometimes cannot stop him. To stop him in training, we have to kick him!”
While it might be a bit too early for those comparisons, United looked to have signed a rough diamond who can develop into something special over the next few years.
And it certainly wouldn’t be the first time that has happened…