The Ivorian has earned the right to step up to the plate at Old Trafford after lighting up the Championship with the Black Cats last season
Manchester United still have a right-wing problem, some 14 years after seeing Cristiano Ronaldo leave the club to join Real Madrid at the peak of his powers. The likes of Antonio Valencia, Wilfried Zaha, Adnan Januzaj and Angel Di Maria were all brought in to fill that void, but none of them came even close to making the same impact.
There was genuine hope that Jadon Sancho could buck the trend after his £73 million ($28m) move from Borussia Dortmund in 2021, but he’s proven to be another great pretender. And then there’s Antony, the polarising winger from Brazil who seems to have no right foot and favours style over substance.Antony cost over £10m more than Sancho last summer as Erik ten Hag launched another successful raid on his former club Ajax, but was just as ineffective in his debut season at Old Trafford. And it’s unlikely that the 23-year-old will suddenly transform into a match-winner next term.
But Ten Hag also now has another option at his disposal: Amad Diallo, who returned to Carrington last week after spending the 2022-23 campaign on loan at Sunderland. United initially agreed a £37m ($47m) deal with Atalanta for Amad when he was still just an 18-year-old in January 2021, and former head coach Ole Gunnar Solskjaer described him as “one of the most exciting young prospects in the game”.
Amad has not yet been given the platform to live up to that billing in Manchester, but he certainly deserves it after his short but memorable stint at the Stadium of Light. The Ivory Coast international was Sunderland’s top scorer as they narrowly missed out on promotion after a play-off semi-final defeat to Luton Town, with one of his 14 goals coming in the first leg of that tie as he lashed home an unstoppable curling shot from 20 yards out.Championship defences couldn’t cope with Amad, and Premier League teams won’t want to face him either. If United are going to improve on last season’s third-place finish, they need someone who can pose a far greater threat down the right flank – and taking a calculated risk on Amad could pay off ten-fold.