When he first arrived on Wearside, Sunderland fans had their reservations over Amad Diallo following his disappointing loan spell at Rangers. Now the Ivorian international has taken the Championship by storm being dubbed as ‘one of the greatest loan signings in the history of the EFL’.
The £19million (potentially rising to £37million due to add-ons) that was commanded by Atalanta for the 18-year-old was seen as a huge risk for Manchester United, especially for a team that has had notoriously bad recruitment post-Sir Alex Ferguson. However, Diallo has flourished under the leadership of current Sunderland manager Tony Mowbray, with the winger now looking like Man United are getting a return on their investment.
Diallo has been an attacking gem in Mowbray’s overachieving Sunderland side. The Black Cats have been without a striker for the majority of the campaign, with Ross Stewart being ruled out with a long-term injury and Ellis Simms having been recalled by Everton in January.
Nevertheless, Diallo has been able to create chances for himself as well as his attacking counterparts Jack Clarke and Patrick Roberts to propel Sunderland into the Championship play-offs.
Diallo’s 13 goals in 37 league matches allow him to rank fourth for goals per 90 (0.45) in the Championship for wingers. The Sunderland loanee averages more goals per game than the likes of Ismaïla Sarr (0.28) along with his two Sunderland teammates Jack Clarke (0.21) and Patrick Roberts (0.17).
As shown in the data, Diallo has exceeded his expected goals per 90 (0.28) by over 50%. This has been achieved due to his relatively high conversion rate of 15.1%. Diallo’s individual training schedule with Sunderland coaches Mike Dodds and Michael Proctor has allowed him to develop into a modern winger that can not only create chances for his teammates but also for himself.
It can be seen over his nine months at Sunderland how Diallo has adapted his playing style to allow him to be a catalyst for starting attacks and build-up play.
All three of Sunderland’s goals last week against Preston North End were started by Diallo making himself available for a short pass. If you compare this to the start of the season, Diallo would often be seen hugging the touchline ready to make constant forward runs which he often failed to get onto the end of.
Diallo is ranked 11th in the entire Championship across all positions for successful dribbles per 90 (2.2), conveying how he has still kept his ‘old-school winger’ characteristics even though he looks to be transitioning into a different playing style. Placed second in the league with 3.4 dribbles per match is Sunderland’s Patrick Roberts.
The link-up play between Diallo and Roberts has been a joy to watch for the Sunderland faithful. Mowbray himself has even praised the partnership between the attacking duo.
Mowbray said: “I’m always telling our players to give him [Diallo] the ball, he doesn’t lose it, he does something that allows to attack, score or be creative.
“I always believe that talent wins you football matches, that’s why great players become great players.
“Wayne Rooney was a superstar at Manchester United because he could do things that other people can’t do.
“And here at Sunderland, Amad and Patrick Roberts do things that normal footballers don’t do, so I want the team to work the ball to certain areas to give it to the players that can make a difference.”
What’s next for Amad Diallo?
The question on both Manchester United and Sunderland fans’ minds is ‘where will Amad be playing next season?’ With the impact he can provide for both sides, it sure is a good question.
Erik ten Hag’s Red Devils have been crying out for a striker that can help provide goals to a depleted front line. Marcus Rashford has been the only player at Old Trafford to step up to the plate and bring forth goals.
If Manchester United can’t get a striker in the summer, Diallo could be counted on as a potential goal source as he has proved he can score in a team that does not have an out-and-out striker.
But for now, Sunderland fans will try and forget that one of their star players will be leaving in the summer and instead try to enjoy Diallo for at least two more games before he departs back to Manchester United.