Amad Diallo flourished at Sunderland, what does the future hold at Man United?

Vatsal Gupta
By Vatsal Gupta
8 Min Read

Manchester United have had a history of successful loans. From David Beckham spending a year at Preston, to the likes of Dean Henderson, Danny Welbeck, and Jesse Lingard honing their craft in the lower leagues, loans have provided the club many good players. Seeking to add his name to the list of successes is Amad. After a successful loan spell at Sunderland, the stage is set for the nifty attacker to make a contribution at Manchester United.

So, what kind of a player is Amad, how did he do at Sunderland, and where does he fit in with Erik ten Hag’s plans? Here’s an attempt to answer those questions:

Note: Stats courtesy of FBRef

Amad Diallo at Sunderland

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The raw numbers

Firstly, let’s get the raw numbers out of the way. Amad has 14 goals and three assists in 39 appearances in Championship for Sunderland. He contributed to the scoresheet every 199 minutes, a very good figure for a 20-year-old playing his first season in the second tier at a club that was expected to be in a relegation battle.

He had 119 shot-creating actions (Two actions that directly led to a shot) and 20 goal-creating actions in the league. His goal-creating actions figure of 0.70/90 is particularly impressive, being the leader in this stat in the Championship.

Being played as a right-midfielder, right-winger, attacking midfielder behind the striker, and even as a forward, Amad is a multi-dimensional player who can give the manager a lot of options in how he sets his team up.

At Sunderland, he spent most of the time playing on the right. Of his 39 appearances, 24 came off the right. Tony Mowbray used him as the pressure release outlet many times due to his brilliant close control and dribbling. He regularly turned away from markers, using his brains to win against the brawns of the defenders.

Amad the goalscorer

As a left-footed player, his shot after coming inside from the right became a trademark effort, as he banged in wondergoal after wondergoal this way.

As a shooter, one of his main strengths is his lack of a backlift while shooting. He doesn’t have to charge his shot to a great degree to put power into it. This allows him to put away ferocious strikes in close quarters.

Besides the wondergoals, Amad is slowly learning the art of where to be in the box. Some of his goals this season have been of the scrappy kind, often regarded by managers as the best kind. His time spent playing as a striker has forced him to adapt his game as he cannot outmuscle people or win aerial duels. So his attacking positioning as come leaps and bounds.

Amad the creator

As a creative player, his number of assists doesn’t do justice to his growth as a creator. This season, Amad has expertly leveraged his dribbling skills to become Sunderland’s answer to deep blocks. His one-twos at the edge of the box in crowded areas, and layoffs after a single touch often sent the opposition defence scrambling and out of shape.

He attempted 5.12 progressive passes/90 (Passes that send the ball forward through the lines), good for being in the 99th percentile of forwards in the eight leagues comparable to the Championship. Furthermore, his progressive carries of 3.72/90 (99th percentile) speak of a tricky ball carrier who can beat his man and create panic in the opposition’s defence.

The complete forward

However, the modern attacker no longer needs to just attack. As every elite team now defends from the front, it was imperative for Amad to become a hard worker while pressing from the front. Remarkably, Amad has grown leaps and bounds in this area. With 0.97 interception/90, Amad doesn’t just run around aimlessly chasing after the ball. He cuts off passing lanes expertly by positioning himself intelligently, a trait far beyond his tender age.

As a forward, his 1.08 tackles/90 puts him in the 87th percentile of players.

Clearly, Amad is a willing presser in attack and with a bit more tactical training of pressing patterns and triggers, he can turn into a menace for opposition defenders dawdling on the ball.

What’s next for Amad at Manchester United?

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Amad has impressed enough that it is a certainty he’ll be a part of the Man United squad this season. In Antony, United have their undisputed first-choice at Amad’s position. Even Jadon Sancho has recently come into his own while playing on the right. Amad has surpassed Facundo Pellistri in the pecking order with his performances this season.

At his best, Amad is a player who combines the best traits of Antony and Sancho.

Despite being left-footed, Amad is more comfortable using both his feet unlike Antony, who heavily favours his left. Antony’s best trait is his goal threat when he cuts inside onto his left, something which Amad already has. Furthermore, Erik ten Hag considers Antony more reliable due to his selfless tracking back and doing the “dirty work” in defence. With proper coaching, Amad can replicate that, as he has already shown the aptitude and willingness to be a pressing forward.

Coming to the comparisons with Sancho, Amad is more explosive than the Englishman. Sancho relies on nifty body feints, agility and close control to beat opponents, which is Amad’s strength as well. However, Amad can also turn on the afterburners on the odd occasion the situation demands it.

In an interesting wrinkle, Amad has also been played as the No 10 this season. In a United team that has no options beyond Bruno Fernandes for the No 10 spot, Amad will provide Erik ten Hag with the flexibility to set his team up in a different way. Of course, Amad is a different profile of No 10 than Fernandes.

While the Portuguese maestro prefers to play high-risk, high-reward passes to break down defences, Amad likes to dovetail with players around him to run rings around the opposition. With a proper striker next season, it would be the best time to utilise Amad’s gifts.

In conclusion, Amad’s profile is something that United don’t have in their squad right now. Coming off a successful loan, United are getting a player transformed, who has full confidence in his abilities. Erik ten Hag is the ideal mentor for young attackers. The sky is the limit for Amad if he continues his trajectory next season.

WATCH: Amad Diallo ballin’ at Sunderland

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