Amad has the quality to fight for a Ballon d'Or in five years' - Man Utd's NXGN star tipped for the very top
Manchester United winger Amad Diallo has been tipped to challenge for a Ballon d'Or in five years' time by the man who engineered his move into Atalanta's academy.
The 18-year-old winger has made a strong start to life at Old Trafford following his January move from the Bergamo outfit.
His displays, which remain sporadic for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side, have been rewarded with a first call-up to the senior Ivory Coast squad this month, as well as a place on Goal's NXGN list of the top teenage talents in world football.
What was said?
Former AC Milan and Italy goalkeeper Giovanni Galli was working as sporting director for Serie C outfit Lucchese when he was first introduced to Amad, who had been impressing for amateur club Boca Barco.
Using his contacts, Galli organised a trial for the youngster at Atalanta, and he has since seen him go on to become one of the brightest talents in both Serie A and, now, the Premier League.
“Amad is unique,” Galli told Goal in an exclusive interview, "but he must make himself stronger.
"At the same time, he must make sure he does not lose his speed, which is a quality that distinguishes him from others."
He added: "In short, I think he has all the qualities to be a candidate for the Ballon d’Or in the next five years."
Amad Diallo: The story so far
Amad arrived in Italy as a 12-year-old alongside his older brother, Hamed Traore, who now plies his trade for Sassuolo, and the pair soon began representing Boca Barco.
When it became clear that they were far too good to be playing at such a level, Galli had them train with his own players at Lucchese to gauge their abilities.
"I immediately knew that both of them had above-average quality,” he said. “For Amad, it was his technique and speed that made him stand out.”
Despite being 13, Amad was immediately placed within the Under-15s set-up, and proved to be their star player as they won the league in his first season.
He continued his rapid ascension through the various age groups before beginning to train with the first team, where club captain Papu Gomez recalled that "some defenders had to kick him as he played like [Lionel] Messi".
Amad went on to score on his Serie A debut in October 2019 before, a year later, United negotiated a deal that would see him move to the Theatre of Dreams for an initial £19 million ($25m), though that could rise to as much as £37m ($48m).
When will Amad be given more chances at Man Utd?
Given the money United paid, some expected to see much more of Amad than they have thus far, with the youngster having only appeared in the Europa League and FA Cup thus far.
Perhaps that should not have come as a huge surprise, though, given he joined the Red Devils having played just 59 minutes of first-team football in his career.
That is not to say he has not impressed for his new club, with his two U23s appearances returning three goals and three assists before he headed in the opener against AC Milan in the Europa League last 16 in early March.
Solskjaer has hailed his "appetite" in training, and Amad - who United first scouted three years ago when he was playing for Atalanta's U15s - is beginning to build relationships with his team-mates as he gets to grips with learning English.
And Galli believes that it will be in 2021-22 that fans get to see the real Amad arrive in the English game.
"He is very young and has already made his debut in the Europa League just two months after arriving in England," he said. "I think next year he will have more chances to stand out in the first team.
"He is a very good player, but he has to remember that talent alone is not enough. He has to work hard and become a footballer who plays for and with the team.”