Manchester United are now being linked to promising Real Betis talent Assane Diao.
Spanish newspaper Estadio Deportivo report Manchester United have sent scouts to watch the winger in action.
Chelsea, Liverpool and Newcastle are also reported to hold an interest, with Real Betis now scrambling to try and keep hold of him.
Here is everything you need to know…
Photo by Angel Martinez/Getty ImagesAssane Diao, the story so far
Assane Diao is Real Betis’ breakout season of the 2023/24 campaign so far, establishing himself as a first team regular.
Diao has made 11 appearances in all competitions, nine as a starter, and he has scored four goals. These goals have come in La Liga, the Europa League, and the Copa del Rey.
The teenager only made his debut for the club this season, at Ibrox in a Europa League defeat away at Rangers. Since then he has become a regular part of Manuel Pellegrini’s side, sparked by him scoring his first career goal days later against Granada, and then Sparta Prague in the following match.
His goalscoring has slowed a little since his initial burst. AS report he could even get a break shortly, having started every league game since making his debut.
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Diao wears the squad number 38. Born in Senegal, he has represented Spain since under-18s level and he currently plays in the same Spain under-21 side as Manchester United’s Alvaro Fernandez, where he has three caps.
He also has a twin brother, Usse Diao, who is on the books at Spanish side Cadiz, which was where Assane started out before Betis snapped him up.
Assane Diao release clause
Assane Diao has a release clause of 30 million Euros listed in his current contract, a fee of £26 million.
Estadio Deportivo report Real Betis would like to extend his contract with a higher release clause, but he only just signed this latest deal back in June.
Assane Diao profileAge: 18Date of birth: 17/09/2005Position: wingerClub: Real BetisNationality: SpainCitizenship: SenegalContract: Until June 2027Assane Diao, what they say
Real Betis academy director Miguel Calzado is quoted by CNBC: “He’s a player with huge growth potential, that’s clear to see from his first matches with Betis. We could see it when he was in the academy, too… he learns very quickly.”
He has been discussed by Betis legend Joaquin, who told AS: “He is on the right path, he is young and we should not put pressure on him.”
Manuel Pellegrini is also trying to stay cautious, having managed top talents, and failed potential, across Europe over the past two decades. He told AS: “There are many players who have very good periods and then they end. I see him very focused on what he is doing and we all have to conduct it in the best way so that he continues adding and contributing.”
Who Assane Diao idolises
Assane Diao told AS: “Messi. But it is very typical. When I played as a midfielder I looked at Pogba and now, from videos I’ve seen and such, I really like how Henry played.”
How Assane Diao fits in
Diao has started games for Real Betis on the left and right wing this season, but the majority of his game time has been on the right. This will be of particular intrigue to United.
He explained: “In the reserve team I had been playing on the left wing or as a forward. On the right I have played very little. I thought it was going to be more difficult for me because of the issue of getting inside, but as it turned out I’m not bad at shooting left-footed either.”
The right wing spot has been a problem position for Manchester United, with an expensive punt on Antony not yet convincing supporters and pundits alike.
United already have a couple of young options, Facundo Pellistri and Amad. The club could throw Diao into the mix too, if they are convinced by his potential, although some would prefer a more proven option, perhaps Wolves winger Pedro Neto.
Assane Diao to Manchester United analysis
Whether Manchester United move or not, will depend on how the club’s scouts grade Diao’s potential. He is a raw talent at present, who could find a move to Old Trafford to be too much too soon, or like Amad, lead to a series of loans, with United needing to wait years for a return on the investment.
United have to balance this cautious view with the fact his release clause is relatively cheap, and that if he keeps on performing well for Betis, he will land a new deal and become more costly, or even see him snapped up by a Premier League rival.
The fact he is already scoring goals at Europa League and La Liga level is an encouraging sign.
One option is for United to try and low-ball the release clause with an even cheaper offer, by tempting Betis with the offer to keep him on loan there for the rest of this season, and even next.