Manchester United are tracking Atalanta winger Amad Traore | Emilio Andreoli/Getty Images
Manchester United are close to signing teenage winger Amad Traore from Atalanta, with the 18-year-old set to join the club officially from January 2021.
Here’s a look at everything you need to know about this prodigious talent…
Traore will cost Man Utd an initial £27.5m | Emilio Andreoli/Getty Images
Traore will cost United an initial fee of €30m (£27.5m), which will be inflated by add-ons in due course. However, organising a work permit will take a little longer and he won’t actually join United until the January transfer window opens.
That £27.5m make the 18-year-old as expensive as Marouane Fellaini, who joined on summer deadline day in 2013. It doesn’t break the top 10 of United’s most expensive transfers of all time, but he is on a par with Wayne Rooney and Luke in terms of teenage signings.
Anthony Martial at an initial £36m remains the most expensive teenager in United history.
Traore has only played a few first-team games for Atalanta | Soccrates Images/Getty Images
Traore hasn’t been considered as an alternative to United’s long-term transfer target Jadon Sancho because he has played very little first-team football in his career to date. It’s understandable given his age.
The teenager made his senior Atalanta debut off the bench last October in a Serie A game against Udinese. He also featured for a few minutes each against Juventus and Parma in subsequent months and was an unused substitute in a handful of other games across all competitions.
Traore was also with the Atalanta squad for the Champions League mini-tournament in Lisbon, although he wasn’t selected for the team’s game against Paris Saint-Germain.
This season, he has been a permanent part of the first-team squad, but hasn’t yet made it off the bench in three Serie A games so far.
Traore scored on his Atalanta debut at the age of 17 | Emilio Andreoli/Getty Images
Traore actually scored on his aforementioned debut against Udinese, netting the seventh goal in the 7-1 thrashing that day. Aged just 17 years and 109 days at the time, that strike made him the youngest player in history to score on his Serie A debut.
He was born after the 2002 World Cup and only turned 18 in July.
Traore will still need to bulk up over time | Emilio Andreoli/Getty Images
Traore is known for an adventurous style of play that could be a good fit for the ‘United way’. Those familiar with his record at youth level suggest he isn’t shy of taking risks and taking responsibility to make something happen for his team.
The youngster has the versatility to play on the left, right or centrally behind a main striker. He also has a good command of the ball with both feet, adding an element of unpredictability to his game.
His issue, however, at least in the short-term, is likely to be physical. Traore stands at just 5ft8in tall and will have to bulk up if he is to be playing regular senior football. That could take some time.
Traore managed 19 combined goals & assists in 2019/20 | Emilio Andreoli/Getty Images
Rather than a winger who predominantly gets assists, or a wide forward who might score more than he lays on for others, Traore recorded a fairly even split across both categories last season.
Including games played at every level, the youngster finished the 2019/20 campaign with eight goals and 11 assists to his name in 27 total appearances. That he has good figures in each is important when modern forwards are expected to do it all.
Traore is also comfortable with both feet, which is a valuable asset for any player to have.
Traore moved to Italy with his mother & brother, Hamed, as a young child | Gabriele Maltinti/Getty Images
Traore was born in Abidjan in Ivory Coast but moved to Italy as a young child with his mother and brother, while his father stayed behind to continue running a football school.
The family settled in northern Italy and early life was a struggle. Traore and older brother, Hamed, got their break when they were invited by former AC Milan goalkeeper Giovanni Galli to train with lower league club Lucchese, where he was a coach. Galli was so impressed by the pair that he instantly knew they were too good for that level and made calls to bigger clubs.
Amad had trials with Juventus, Inter and Milan as a result, before being scouted by Atalanta, while Hamed was picked up by Empoli – he now has two full Serie A seasons under his belt, having spent last season on loan Sassuolo.
The player is thought to be in the process of acquiring Italian citizenship, which would make him eligible to represent Italy in the future. But that isn’t complete and won’t help in organising a work permit to allow him to play in England any faster.
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