Amad Diallo, Hannibal Mejbri and Shola Shoretire progress excites Man Utd coach

Simon Peach, PA Chief Football Writer
·4-min read

January signing Amad Diallo is gaining more confidence every day in the view of Neil Wood, with the Manchester United Under-23s boss similarly excited by the strides being made by Hannibal Mejbri and Shola Shoretire.

There is an exciting crop of talent being developed at Old Trafford, where the progress of young players into the first-team has been key to the club’s identity and success.

Diallo is the most talked about teenager at United right now after arriving from Atalanta last month in a deal worth an initial 21million euros (£18.7m) potentially rising to 41million euros (£36.5million).

Amad Diallo was an unused substitute as Manchester United beat West Ham in the FA Cup fifth round on Tuesday
Amad Diallo was an unused substitute as Manchester United beat West Ham in the FA Cup fifth round on Tuesday (Martin Rickett/PA)

The 18-year-old has scored three and assisted three across two under-23 appearances, then was named in Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s squad for the first time as United beat West Ham in the FA Cup fifth round on Tuesday.

“You see he has ability and he’s linking up well,” United development team boss Wood said.

“He doesn’t really have a relationship with any of these boys here, he came to Liverpool and did well and the same (in last Friday’s 6-4 win against Blackburn).

“He’s training with the first team and doing well and he’s still new to England and England’s style of football so it’s going to take time and like all young players you have to be patient with them. He’s gaining more confidence as the days go on.”

Hannibal Mejbri joined Manchester United from Monaco in 2019
Hannibal Mejbri joined Manchester United from Monaco in 2019 (Martin Rickett/PA)

Diallo will wear Amad on the back of his shirt, with fellow teenager Hannibal Mejbri also preferring to be referred to by his first name.

The 18-year-old arrived from Monaco in 2019 in a deal that could reach 10m euros (£9.3m) and has been making strides in the youth set-up, showing an impressive attitude that complements his aptitude.

“He loves getting on the ball, he loves creating and teams love to hack him down as much as they can,” Wood said. “He’s doing really well, he’s been outstanding for the last couple of games.

“I think what a lot of people don’t realise about Hannibal is that they see him getting fouled, they hear the screams every now and then but he’s a tough cookie.

“The Accrington game the lad broke his nose in the first 10 minutes and he played the whole game with two stents up his nose – there’s not many players who would do that. He’s a lot tougher than he’s given credit for.

“I think he’s the type that wants the ball all the time, he’s not going to shy away from it and that’s what we want, you don’t want your top players being worried. He just needs a bit of protection – it could result in him being badly injured.”

The French midfielder has been dealing with an ankle injury this week, which has delayed his move up to a first-team bubble that Shoretire has already joined Diallo in.

The Newcastle-born forward celebrated turning 17 in style last week, signing his first professional contract with United and then scoring a hat-trick for the under-23s against Blackburn.

“As the season has gone on you have seen his talent,” said Wood, whose side take on Arsenal on Friday.

“His work rate off the ball is excellent. I think he’s very mature for his age, he’s not one spot of bother.

“He plays for the team, he knows the role he’s got to do to improve himself and he works his socks off every day.

“Anything I ask him to do he’s no problem and he will do it so, yeah, I do think he’s very mature beyond his years and I think that’s helped him to settle in to playing 23s football and he’s always played with older players anyway.

“He’s always been stretched in a way, he’s never had it in his own age and been the main guy and the standout, which he easily could have been in the academy if he played his own age group.

“He’s used to it and it’s probably helped him along the way and he’s taken it to another level. Hopefully he can continue and keep working and let’s see if he can show what he can do with his football.”