Manchester United chased Jadon Sancho all summer but signed two teenage right-wingers on the final day of the transfer window to the shock of many.
They paid the €10m buyout clause to snare Facundo Pellistri away from Uruguayan outfit Penarol and have agreed to pay a deal worth €40m to sign Amad Diallo from Atalanta with the player expected to join in the January transfer window.
Both are 18-year-old right-wingers the club were tracking for years and they finally triggered the moves to sign them on the final day of the transfer window. The addition of two largely unproven young players might have shocked many but Manchester United believe they have gone ahead in the market to snap up potential future stars.
Facundo Pellistri is massively rated in Uruguayan and South American football and was tracked by Real Madrid, Lyon and Manchester City before Manchester United signed him.
Amad Diallo has played just 20 odd minutes of Serie A football for Atalanta but did enough to attract the attention of Juventus, the ultimate snappers of young talent in Italy.
While Amad Diallo will not be arriving until January, Manchester United will draft Facundo Pellistri straight into the first-team squad and are confident that given time, he will make an impact with his pace and trickery on the ball.
Manchester United’s first-team required significant work in the transfer window, of course, but there is never any harm in building towards the future.
The Reds are often accused of being short-sighted and scattergun in their approach to transfers. Facundo Pellistri and Amad Diallo, however, are proof of a more long-term approach.
Manchester United have been keeping tabs on the Uruguayan for a few years and even tapped into the knowledge of Diego Forlan, who coached Penarol until last month, to get the lowdown on the teenage winger.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer spoke to Forlan about the player and received a glowing assessment of one of Uruguay’s top young talent from the former Manchester United striker. The Premier League club kept in touch with the player’s camp for months but only made a move for him when he was on the verge of agreeing on a deal to join Lyon.
The French giants believed that they had a deal in place until they were told of Manchester United’s late move. The Red Devils managed to convince the player to move to England and agreed to trigger his €10m clause on deadline day.
Facundo Pellistri is highly rated in the South America circuit and is seen as a player with a very high ceiling of potential. The 18-year-old has the pace to burn and many believe that he is faster with the ball than many players are without it.
He is a good passer and very strong with the ball at his feet. He averaged 7.86 dribbles per 90 with a success rate of 50 per cent in the Primera Division, which is quite impressive for someone his age.
However, he can cut a frustrating figure on the pitch at times going forward as he is not a finished product yet. Facundo Pellistri’s final ball and finishing needs massive improvement and the onus is on the Manchester United coaches to take his game to the next level.
And for someone as talented as him, his attacking output is far from impressive with only one goal and two assists for Penarol.
To make the jump into the Manchester United first team, the Uruguayan will have to work on his final and bulk up in order to deal with the more physical nature of the Premier League.
The Premier League giants are keen to bed him in gradually but are confident that they have got a talented player to work with.
Amad Diallo was expected to join Parma on a loan deal on deadline day. Atalanta and Parma had a deal in place for weeks but on Monday morning the Gialloblu received a call from Atalanta who made it clear that the deal was off.
Manchester United barged into the negotiations and agreed on a deal worth an initial fee of €25m and another €15m in add-ons to book the signing Amad Diallo from Atalanta. The 18-year-old winger is expected to join the club in January pending getting a work permit from the UK government.
The Premier League giants have been tracking him for four years and believe that they have pulled off a significant coup in signing him.
Atalanta have one of the most revered academies in Italian football and Amad Diallo joined them in 2015. He made his mark at various age levels before making his Serie A debut in October 2019.
He scored within four minutes of being on the pitch and became the first player born in 2002 to score in Serie A.
However, he didn’t play much after his debut performance and was limited to two more late cameos in Serie A – against Juventus in November and Parma in January.
Atalanta’s performances last season meant Amad Diallo was not likely to get much game time but he was earning the roving eyes of scouts at the youth level. Diallo came on leaps and bounds for the Under-19s, scoring seven goals and notching four assists.
While they are a couple of levels below Serie A, the feeling is that there is a considerable talent to work with, in the player. Manchester United are aware that he is not close to Jadon Sancho’s level but believe in two or three years’ time he could reach that potential.
Amad Diallo prefers to play on the right like Sancho but unlike the England winger, he is stronger on the left foot, which was evident from his debut goal against Udinese.
While a winger by trait, the Ivory Coast youngster has shown a willingness to drift inside to get more involved while playing for Atalanta’s youth teams. It shows that he is learning at an impressive rate but he is still some way away from fulfilling his potential.
Like most young players of his age, Amad Diallo is sometimes guilty of putting his head down and running with the ball, which affects his decision making. He still needs to learn when to release the ball and look up to find a team-mate in a better position. While his pace and dribbling ability help him to get past defenders, he is still to master the art of timing of the final ball.
Manchester United are confident that all that will come once Amad Diallo joins them in January and the coaches get to work on him at their Carrington base.