Projections: Manchester United's Amad Diallo

Blitz report and projections on Manchester United's Amad Diallo.

Projections: Manchester United's Amad Diallo

Manchester United signed Amad Diallo in the summer of 2020. Since then, he's gone on two loans: a short spell with Rangers in 21/22; a season-long run with Sunderland in 22/23. The Ivorian has recently returned from injury, will not be going for the African Cup of Nations, hence might be set for a run 1st team run.

What kind of player is he? What's his peak role? How might he manifest in this or future (United) sides?

This is the framework we will use to BLITZ through his game and make projections:

  • Position
  • Physical Profile
  • Temperament
  • Functional Base (usage adopted from @nonewthing on X–formerly Twitter)
  • Settled Attack
  • Settled Defence
  • Attacking Transitions
  • Defensive Transitions
  • Set-pieces (Attacking)
  • Set-pieces (Defending)
  • Projections


  • Primary: Right Wing (RW)
  • Secondary: Attacking Midfielder (AM), Center Forward (CF), Central Midfield (CM)

Physical Profile (Benchmarked for Premier League):

  • Height and Build: 173 cm, slight build, with shorter legs.
  • Balance and Agility: Excellent balance relative to frame. Demonstrates a strong ability to feel and evade contact from behind.
  • Dueling: Performs well in backside duels due to top balance and agility. Weaker in lateral, shoulder-to-shoulder duels.
  • Physical Resilience: Deceptively strong in physical confrontations due to effective weight shifting under contact.
  • Speed and Pace:
    • Over Long Distances: Average pace across half-pitch lengths.
    • Short Bursts: Shows decent burst over the first few meters, especially noticeable when initiating dribbles or runs with existing momentum.
    • From Standstill: Average burst from a stationary position.


  • Defensive Engagement: Shows a propensity to engage aggressively in challenges, often attempting to poke the ball away.
  • Demand for Ball Share: Seeks a dominant role in ball possession, becoming more influential when team dynamics allow, especially in a free role.
  • On-Field Leadership: Acts as a director in possession, guiding teammates through hand gestures and leading touches.

Functional Base:

  • In Possession:
    • Small Spaces Expertise: Excels in tight spaces, especially ahead of the ball. Skilled at receiving passes between defensive lines and under pressure with his back to the goal.
    • Touchline Efficiency: Fairly effective, but unspectacular, when receiving the ball at the touchline. Can platform nearby attackers and runners through rotations.
    • Ball Handling: Willing and smooth operator with either feet. His touch and slightness enable him to act as an attacking sequence initiator, effectively operating behind the ball or with the entire opposition's block ahead.
    • Momentum Influence: Has the ability to shift the team's momentum. Can accelerate play with quick combinations in overloaded areas or decelerate with slower, deliberate passes.
  • Technical Fluidity:
    • Maintains smooth execution in releases, receptions, and duels, enhancing overall play fluidity.
  • Role Profiling:
    • Emerges as a small-space, offensive facilitator. Versatile with several executable use-cases, capable of augmenting the dynamics of adjacent players.

Attacking (Settled):

  • Movement and Positioning:
    • Actively makes runs behind the backline, particularly effective when the ball is on the far side or in less possession setups.
    • Demonstrated a significant role in possession during his tenure at Sunderland.
  • Tendencies:
    • Comfortable receiving passes off either foot, enabling play across the pitch.
    • Exhibits excellent running and sneakiness in low-share offense, probing defenses with runs behind the line and positioning for far-side cutbacks and follow-ups to shots.
    • Versatile shooter, proficient in laces shots off the run, curlers after cutting in, reverse-shots on the ground, and composed finishes in 1v1 situations.
    • Chooses shots wisely based on situation; opts for safer shots when unpressured but executes more complex techniques under pressure.
  • Mental and Tactical Aspects:
    • Requires significant stimulation (form, high possession share, game rhythm) to perform complex actions; concentration can be a weakness otherwise.
    • Exceptional in timing and weighting passes, displays an innate understanding of space. Skilled at cushioning the ball off either foot without breaking stride, contributing to his decisiveness.

Defending (Settled):

Remember, Defence encompasses both active effort (tackles, direct duels) and passive effort (creating options, relieving pressure, outlet play)

  • Defensive Execution:
    • Committed and focused in marking and tracking responsibilities. Can deliver in man-marking roles.
    • Active tackler, regularly tries to poke ball.
    • While not relying on sheer athleticism to create options, adept at finding runners with precise passes and making decisive plays.
  • Limitations:
    • Faces challenges when positioned as the primary or isolated out-ball, whether wide or central.

Attacking Transitions:

  • Decision Making and Execution:
    • Displays good decision-making and delivers a strong final ball, particularly effective in setting and releasing through balls.
  • Awareness and Control:
    • Exhibits great awareness under pressure, especially in initial moments after receiving the ball behind goals.
    • Maintains average pace over long distances but shows strong form in the initial phase, keeping the ball close with a tight circle of control.
  • Spatial Play:
    • Capable of spreading possession effectively, playing to the far side to engage wingers.
  • Box Presence:
    • Decisive and opportunistic in the box, particularly in follow-up runs or open counter-attacking situations. Often reaches chances missed by other forwards.
  • Versatility:
    • Uses his right foot willingly for receiving, setting, and releasing shots or lateral passes, often surprising defenders who anticipate a body readjustment.

Defensive Transitions:

  • Pressing:
    • Astute when attacking from behind (an opponent), skilled at marking in double team situations by splitting lanes.
  • Tackling:
    • Sharp and effective in tackles, especially in recovery.

Set-Pieces Offensive:

  • Direct Involvement:
    • Serves as a first-or-second ball option for direct and wide free-kicks, indicating proficiency in his release.
    • Utilized as a short ball option for corners to create offensive plays and follow-up routines.

Set-Pieces Defensive:

  • Contribution:
    • Offers negligible defensive contribution in set-piece scenarios.

Projections (for Manchester United):

  • Managerial Deployment:
    • Under Erik Ten Hag, he has been utilized centrally during earlier pre-season runs, showcasing his versatility.
  • Role Adaptability:
    • Possesses the ability to operate effectively across the front line or from midfield in a facilitator role. His skill in providing rhythm and connecting pre-box play makes him an ideal support for more dynamic attackers.
  • Current Standing:
    • At the time of writing, I'd mark him as United's best option in this facilitator role.
  • Game State Suitability:
    • Shows potential to thrive more centrally in open, end-to-end game states. Can act as a secondary outlet stitcher, enhancing the team's outlet strategies.
  • Small Ball Game States:
    • Demonstrates capability in 'small ball' game states, adept at making plays and covering most offensive gaps in the existing dynamic.
  • Tactical Flexibility:
    • Peaks as a 'poker starter', offering any manager tactical flexibility (see Manchester City's Bernardo Silva). His ability to adapt and simulate different possession and offensive dynamics is a strength.

Who's the Writer?

Joel A. Adejola is an undergraduate at the University of Kansas (KU), where he studies Engineering and Philosophy. Besides scouting and technical consulting in football, he's currently delving into the intersection of sports and neuroscience as a student researcher at KU's Computational Neurocognition Lab.