Walter Sabatini's (and, by extension, A.S. Roma's) fondness for wunderkinder is certainly well-documented. From the incredibly successful (Marquinhos, Erik Lamela) to the buy-and-flips (Antonio Sanabria, Tin Jedvaj) to the ones Roma seems to have forgotten (anyone remember Kevin Mendez?), Roma hasn't had a short supply of young up-and-comers in recent memory, and it looks as if another might be joining current hotshots Gerson and Leandro Paredes in the coming days. Transfer guru Gianluca di Marzio (with a job title that sounds quite fun if you ask me) has been reporting continued negotiations between Bologna and Roma over the teenager, and Corriere di Bologna has now said that Roma are on the verge of buying Diawara for somewhere between €10 and €12 million euros plus the dry loan of Umar Sadiq.
Considering that this is the second time in the past six months that the Giallorossi are dropping a significant hunk of change on a young midfielder, a bit of a scouting report seemed in order. Will the gifted teen fulfill his promise and be a long-term replacement for Daniele De Rossi, or at least be a nice cash injection somewhere down the line? Or will he fall apart under the notorious pressure that comes part and parcel with playing for the Capitoline club?
Amadou Diawara was born on July 17, 1997, in Conakry, Guinea, and spent the last season plying his wares at the aforementioned Bologna F.C. 1909. He made 34 appearances (10 of those starts) and logged 2,735 minutes, playing primarily in a defensive midfielder role (hence the implication that he might act as a long-term De Rossi replacement). After playing the 2014/2015 season for San Marino, he has truly had a breakout season for I Rossoblu, starting his first match against Lazio in late August and never really looking back. Another find by one of Italy's great talent scouters, Pantaleo Corvino, Diawara has now gotten the attention of a variety of big clubs, including Roma, Juventus, Chelsea and Bayern Munich.
The name of Diawara's game is ball recovery. In his November 21 match against Roma, his defensive excellence truly shone with four interceptions and three won tackles out of three. Furthermore, he's shown a level of intelligence on the field that usually isn't seen in a nineteen-year-old during his first year in the top flight; although his job in Donadoni's system was to act as a ball-winning midfielder, he has shown potential in the passing department as well. An overall passing accuracy of 84 percent (78 percent of which were forward passes) implies that he could easily burst forward and fit into a counter-attack quite nicely.
Diawara's general composure shouldn't be downplayed here, either: despite being thrown into a struggling side that finished fourteenth and switched managers two months into the season, he cooly slotted into both Delio Rossi and Roberto Donadoni's systems. A hopefully more stable Roma environment could result in an even shorter adjustment time for the Guinean.
A final factor pointing in Diawara's favor for a potentially successful career at Roma is the simple fact that he's already played in Italy (Serie A for one year and Lega Pro for the other). Considering how tactically-based Serie A is (especially in comparison to some of the other leagues on the continent), it makes sense that Spalletti and Sabatini are interested in a player who has shown so much promise in his early stages of play on the peninsula.
Every youngster has his flaws, and Diawara is no exception. Even though he definitely wasn't the focal point of Bologna's offense, his zero goals scored in top flight football combined with an abysmal eight percent shot accuracy mean that we shouldn't expect Diawara to bang them in when he puts on the Roma kit. Diawara also has the stereotypical facet of a wonderkid's game of being extremely raw technically and physically. Playing and training alongside Francesco Totti should theoretically help that aspect of his game come along, but tell that to the much-maligned Juan Iturbe.
Another negative to a Diawara purchase is the price-tag. After sinking €16m into Brazilian midfielder Gerson (and not forgetting the presence of post-Empoli breakout Leandro Paredes), the simple question of how minutes will be divvied up raises red flags by itself. Luciano Spalletti has not indicated that Paredes will be sold or loaned, and Gerson's hype levels alone mean he's not going anywhere. For Diawara to not turn into a more expensive Uçan, Roma will have to balance minutes wisely between the three youngsters and the more experienced members of Roma's midfield core.
It's been reported that Diawara has been heavily pushing for a move away from Bologna, going as far to cause a small kerfuffle at Bologna by not even showing up to their summer training camp. Although this has worked out for Roma in the short-term by essentially forcing Bologna's hand, it raises questions over what may happen if an even bigger club than Roma comes sniffing around following a good season for the defensive midfielder.
Summing It Up
Diawara was one of the shining young stars of Italian football last year, and he's certainly an exciting prospect to be joining up with Roma. There are obvious concerns about the way he's handled himself in this transfer negotiation, but on the whole he's a very good defensive midfielder who might be able to follow in the footsteps of our beloved Daniele De Rossi. Time will tell if Diawara turns into a true diamond on the field, but at the very least Roma isn't left wanting for midfield prospects at the moment.