Manchester United are now thought to be tracking teenage Atalanta winger Amad Traore, with a view to tempting the 18-year-old Ivorian to Old Trafford.
Here’s a look at everything you need to know about this prodigious talent…
First and foremost, Traore is not being considered as an alternative to Jadon Sancho, for whom there has yet to be a breakthrough in negotiations, in the way that Gareth Bale was briefly on the radar, or that others like Douglas Costa and Ivan Perisic have also been rumoured.
The Manchester Evening News suggests that United are eyeing Traore regardless and have already made contact with Atalanta in light of potential competition from other clubs.
This appears to be about the Old Trafford club arming themselves with as much young talent as possible in the hope of developing first-team stars in the long-term.
The obvious reason why Traore isn’t being considered as an alternative to Sancho is because he has played very little first-team football in his career to date – which is 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.
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.
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 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.
Parma appear to be the most obvious threat to any club interested in signing Traore this summer, with reports in Italy back in July claiming that talks over a proposed loan deal were taking place.
That is already an established path, with emerging Swedish winger Dejan Kulusevski loaned to Parma by Atalanta last summer, which led to a €35m January transfer to Juventus. Kulusevski immediately returned to Parma on loan, finishing the season with Serie A’s Best Young Player award.