Amad Diallo has returned to Manchester United training after representing Ivory Coast at the Olympics this summer and has been assigned a new squad number, 16 – the number made famous at Old Trafford by Roy Keane and Michael Carrick.
But the teenage winger, who completed a transfer worth up to £37m from Atalanta in January, could yet leave on loan for the duration of the season in order to aid his development with the promise of more consistent first-team playing chances.
Competition for places will be fierce if he stays at Old Trafford, with Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho, Mason Greenwood, Daniel James and perhaps even Anthony Martial vying for wide attacking places.
Other youngsters like Axel Tuanzebe (Aston Villa), Facundo Pellistri (Alaves) and Tahith Chong (Birmingham) have already gone out on loan to get the regular opportunities they need to keep progressing and Amad could join them before the end of the transfer window.
Here’s a look at six clubs that would be a good fit for Amad…
Reading sold Michael Olise to Crystal Palace during the summer and have not directly replaced the teenage winger, meaning the Royals potentially have a void that Amad could fill.
The Championship, despite its reputation as a physical league, is a tried and testing breeding ground for technical attacking players. United have already sent Tahith Chong to Birmingham, while Eberechi Eze was developed at QPR and Ismaila Sarr stayed with Watford last season and helped the Hornets earn immediate promotion back to the Premier League.
5. Sheffield United
Reading haven’t been linked with Amad as it stands, but Sheffield United have. The Blades were relegated from the Premier League last season and are keen to make their Championship stay a brief one. Adding quality players like Amad would be a way for them to achieve just that.
Sheffield United have already proved that they can play a role in developing youngsters loaned from their namesakes in Manchester after moulding Dean Henderson for two years.
4. Crystal Palace
Crystal Palace may have already signed the aforementioned Olise from Reading, but the Eagles have long had a reputation for developing young wingers, dating all the way back to a teenage Wilfried Zaha over a decade ago.
Versatile attacker Eberechi Eze has already thrived at Selhurst Park, while the Eagles have generally signed young players this summer – Olise is 19, centre-back Marc Guehi is 21 and midfielder Conor Gallagher is also 21. The latter is on loan from Chelsea.
Fabrizio Romano reported on Palace’s rumoured interest in Amad, however what he didn’t mention is that Palace are already at their limit for loan players and would have to either make Jean-Philippe Mateta’s deal into a permanent one a few months early or cut it short.
Leicester boss Brendan Rodgers has a fine record of developing young talents and, as long as United don’t view the Foxes as direct competition, could be a good temporary home for Amad.
Harvey Barnes is an example of the club’s record with home-grown talent, while 22-year-old striker Patson Daka has been signed this summer. Even Kelechi Iheanacho, now 24, has benefitted from being a Leicester player and is finally making good on his potential.
The opportunity could be there for Amad because Marc Albrighton is getting older and Ayoze Perez couldn’t nail down a consistent place last season.
2. West Ham
West Ham enabled Jesse Lingard to resurrect his career in the second half of last season, a spell that makes him one of the very best loan signings in Premier League history.
The Hammers have Europa League football to contend with this season and will need added depth and quality to ensure it doesn’t detract too much from their domestic results. But they have so far been quiet in the transfer market and Amad could be a strong short-term addition.
Of the attacking players currently available to David Moyes, Michail Antonio, Andriy Yarmolenko and Manuel Lanzini all had patchy fitness records last season.
1. Borussia Dortmund
Borussia Dortmund are always keen on young talent, with most of their attacking players aged 22 or younger, right down to 16-year-old Youssoufa Moukoko.
Amad could fit right in and get opportunities because the Bundesliga haven’t directly replaced Jadon Sancho, with new signing Donyell Malen a different type of player.
Going to Dortmund would also mean playing at a higher level than if he stayed in the Premier League or dropped into the Championship because he would be in the Champions League.
Relations between United and Dortmund extend beyond just this summer’s Sacnho deal, with Adnan Januzaj going to Westfalenstadion on loan in 2015 and Shinji Kagawa going from Dortmund to Manchester and back again in 2012 and 2014.