Erik ten Hag is ready to welcome back ‘magician’ Amad Diallo to Man United next season
Not only has Amad Diallo’s sparkling end to this season set Sunderland fans dreaming of Wembley and the Premier League, it has sent a ripple of excitement through Manchester United.
‘A magician,’ declared Tony Mowbray, who was spotted puffing on an imaginary cigar as he celebrated the exquisite free-kick by Diallo that sparked a comeback victory against Luton in Saturday’s play-off semi-final at the Stadium of Light.
Regardless of what happens to Sunderland at Kenilworth Road on Tuesday, United will consider the loan to be good business. ‘We loan such players to let them develop and make progress, to bring them back,’ said Erik ten Hag. ‘That is the aim of a loan.’
Diallo’s talent is not in question, but the move to Wearside would have been in the hope he could learn to take responsibility, using his gifts to influence competitive games, under pressure.
United would know that on loan with Mowbray the youngster would have certain licence to express himself in a team committed to attractive football and yet, before a demanding audience, would not succeed if he were to play purely for his own amusement.
Amad Diallo scored a stunning free-kick for Sunderland against Luton on Saturday night
The 20-year-old winger is leading Sunderland’s charge for promotion via the play-offs
Erik ten Hag is ready to give Diallo a chance back at Old Trafford next season
Mail Sport columnist Matt Barlow (above) believes Diallo will get his chance to impress at United after being labelled a ‘magician’ by Sunderland boss Tony Mowbray
Brilliant, decisive goals at the sharp end of the season suggest Diallo, 20, an Ivorian signed from Atalanta in January 2021, has delivered on this.
And, of course, it works for Sunderland, too, because they inject elite quality they could not otherwise afford into the squad.
It is the definition of a good loan and for EFL clubs a good loan can make all the difference.
See Nathan Tella and Ian Maatsen at Burnley or the impact of James McAtee and Tommy Doyle at Sheffield United. See Brooke Norton-Cuffy and Callum Doyle at Coventry or Cameron Archer and Aaron Ramsey at Middlesbrough.
Those clubs enjoying successful seasons have struck good loans.
Down the pyramid, some clubs would struggle to survive without the flexibility of the loan system. Stevenage signed 11 players on loan, including five different goalkeepers, over the course of the last season.
All of this, however, is firmly on the terms of the parent clubs.
When Sheffield United met City in the FA Cup semi-final, McAtee and Doyle were unable to play. Next season, they cannot both return to Bramall Lane on loan because Premier League rules forbid it.
They would have to sign at least one permanently to keep them next season. That’s without considering Pep Guardiola’s plans for the pair. Ten Hag might like to have Diallo in his squad but it is a big leap into United’s first team.
Then what for development? Each case is different – what may be good for one player may not be for the next – and hostage to fortune, such as injury and managerial change and new signings, but all rely on opportunity.
Man City’s James McAtee (above) is another Premier League youngster that has shone on loan in the Championship for Sheffield United this season
There is no bridging the chasm between youth team to first team without opportunity.
Djed Spence was a huge success on loan at Nottingham Forest, integral to promotion and moving to Tottenham where he barely played before a loan to Rennes in January as they signed Pedro Porro, who plays in exactly the same position, for £45million.
Conor Gallagher excelled at Crystal Palace. He played with confidence and authority. Back at Chelsea, he has been lost in the crowd of a wild recruitment drive. They have so many players they don’t always have enough seats in team meetings, and they have more than a dozen more on loan.
Despite new FIFA limits, rich clubs continue to stockpile footballers. Some keep them in-house to nurture. They hedge bets, keep some for cover or plump up the Under-21 team. Many are working the loan market.
There are 3,178 players on loan around the world, according to research undertaken by CIES Football Observatory from March.
After a tough start at Man United, Diallo looks set to return and make an impact at Man United next term
Arsenal came out on top with 25 players out on loan and there were eight Premier League clubs in the top 20. Brighton have 21 players on loan and Manchester City 20.
This does not account for those operating within a multi-club model. City have added Brazilian club Bahia to their empire and other Premier League clubs are busy trying to follow suit in South America where talent is abundant.
We are heading for a world where a small wealthy group of clubs own an increasingly large share of all the players and this cannot be healthy for the game. FIFA might care to take a closer look because further restrictions would not go amiss.
In the meantime, we can delight when the likes of Diallo, McAtee and Co break through and shine.
The Turkish Super Lig can kill or cure a career. It did not go to plan for Dele Alli at Besiktas but Nathan Redmond has thrived in the same place.
Redmond signed a one-year deal in September, inspired by a serendipitous meeting with David Beckham at the airport on his way out to Istanbul. Beckham told him of the delights of football overseas but that the key to success was to embrace the culture.
Redmond has really kicked on since the World Cup break, back to full match-sharpness after barely playing in his final months at Southampton, and with confidence soaring under new boss Senol Gunes.
Besiktas are making a charge for the top with nine wins and a draw in their last 10 games, including victories against Galatasaray and Fenerbahce. Redmond has scored four in his last seven appearances. The fans adore him and Gunes wants him to sign a long-term deal. But, in this form, on a free and still only 29, there is sure to be interest from the Premier League.
Nathan Redmond (right) is enjoying his time in Turkey with Super Lig outfit Besiktas
Among the unused substitutes for Fulham last week against Leicester was an academy graduate with a curious pedigree.
Matt Dibley-Dias is a grandson of Manoel Jose Dias, a Brazilian midfielder, who played in the 1960s for both Flamengo and Corinthians. Known as Manoelzinho, he died in 2004 soon after 19-year-old Dibley-Dias was born.
The Fulham teen, likened in appearance to Kaka, is eligible to play for England, Brazil, Portugal or New Zealand, where he was born.
Thirty years ago, the old Wembley Stadium hosted its last major European final. Parma, with Tomas Brolin in the team and Tino Asprilla unused on the bench, beat Royal Antwerp 3-1 in the European Cup Winners’ Cup final, with fewer than 40,000 rattling around inside the vast bowl with room for 100,000.
UEFA have gone from one extreme to the other with the final of the Europa Conference League is going to Prague’s Fortuna Stadium with its capacity of 20,000.
Peterborough’s Barry Fry has always had faith in players from non-league and Friday’s 4-0 play-off win against Sheffield Wednesday featured key contributions by three signed from his old club Barnet.
Jack Taylor scored the first, Ephron Mason-Clark set up the third and England U20s centre-half Ronnie Edwards impressed at the back.
Barry Fry’s faith in non-league football paid off for Peterborough against Sheffield Wednesday in the first leg of their play-off semi-final on Friday night