Amad Diallo transfer: Manchester United sign Ivorian teenage prodigy from Atalanta for initial £18m

A deal for Diallo was originally agreed in October ahead of the January transfer window

Lawrence Ostlere
Thursday 07 January 2021 16:52 GMT
Manchester United 0-2 Manchester City: Ole Gunnar Solskjaer post-match press conference

Manchester United have completed the signing of Ivorian teenage prodigy Amad Diallo from Italian club Atalanta for £18m. Diallo has signed a four-and-a-half year contract at Old Trafford with the option of a further year.

A deal for Diallo was originally agreed in October ahead of the January transfer window, pending the confirmation of a work permit, which was complicated by the UK’s departure from the European Union on 1 January. Diallo was the first player to be signed and registered under new post-Brexit rules, which required him to attain the new version of a work permit, called a governing body exemption (GBE), from the FA.

The 18-year-old remains in Rome where he applied for his UK visa earlier this week, and he will travel to Manchester once his visa is issued. He will not have to quarantine on arrival as he has been part of Atalanta’s ‘bubble’. 

Diallo, 18, has only played 37 minutes in Serie A over four appearances, scoring his one goal six minutes into his senior debut. He has caught the attention with his performances at youth level and has also played in the Champions League. The forward can play across the front line, and typically cuts inside from the right wing on his favoured left foot although he is almost as comfortable with his right too.

Born in the Ivory Coast’s Abidjan, Diallo moved to Italy aged 10 and shone for local club Boca Barco before he was signed by Atalanta aged 13. He quickly rose up the age groups until he was training with the senior squad at 16. “There are defenders in the first team that sometimes cannot stop him,” Atalanta captain Papu Gomez once said. “To stop him in training, we have to kick him! He plays like Messi.”

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer revealed Diallo had been on United’s radar for some time.

“As a club, we have followed Amad for a number of years and having watched him myself, I believe he is one of the most exciting young prospects in the game," the manager said. “Manchester United has such a proud history of developing young players and everything is in place to enable Amad to reach his potential here.

“It will take time for him to adapt but his speed, vision and fantastic dribbling ability will stand him in good stead to make the transition. He is a player with all of the raw attributes that are needed to be an important player for Manchester United in the years to come.”

Diallo added: “After waiting since the summer, it is finally a dream come true to complete my move to Manchester United. I am hugely ambitious and there is so much that I want to achieve in the game; when I spoke to the manager I knew that I had joined the perfect club.

“This is a really exciting squad with so many great players, I can promise that I will work hard every day to learn from them and give everything to develop my game. The coaches have been fantastic since I signed, we have been in touch regularly and they have already given me a lot of great advice.

“I have had time to prepare for this move, both physically and mentally, and I have worked really hard to be ready to make the step up to this amazing club.”

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