Number Three: Amadou Diawara
Previous Club: S.S.C. Napoli
Future Comparison: looks around cautiously Daniele De Rossi?
Who Is He?
Amadou Diawara is a Guinean international midfielder, born in Conakry, Guinea on July 17, 1997. After joining Lega Pro side San Marino in 2014 with nothing to his name except a pair of jeans and a t-shirt, his play quickly garnered attention from sides all across the Italian peninsula. Once he was able to use his first paycheck from San Marino to “buy some shoes”, it didn’t take long for renowned scout Pantaleo Corvino of Bologna to grab him for under €500,000, setting him up to become the most talked-about midfield prospect in Serie A during the 2015-2016 season.
Following that season where his breakout continued, Roma was one of many sides interested in plucking Diawara from Bologna. Unfortunately, a move to Roma wasn’t in the cards at that particular moment. It would be Roma’s southern rivals, i Partenopei, who brought him into the fold. Obviously, a move from Bologna to Napoli for a young talented midfielder means that he won’t be the center of attention in the same way he was before. Despite that, Diawara continued to show that all the talent was there for the taking while playing in Naples, resulting in his move to Roma this summer for €21 million.
What Can He Do?
The shining jewel of Diawara’s game is his passing ability. If you’ve been watching Roma’s pre-season friendlies, you’ve surely noticed how he can make a long-distance pinpoint pass seem easier than putting your shoes on in the morning. That ability is backed up statistically; Diawara had a 92% average passing accuracy in the 2018/2019 season, and passing maps show that he was expected to make every kind of pass known to man while on the field for Napoli. Add in the fact that he was doing this for a big club like Napoli, and it should be expected that he can transfer this passing ability to Roma and the way clubs of any size play against her.
Diawara has also made a name for himself defensively; there’s a reason why he’s considered one of the best young midfielders with box-to-box ability in Europe. Dallagente’s excellent analysis of Diawara’s game from early July highlighted his interception ability, quality under pressure, and a strong candidate to protect Fonseca’s high line defense. All in all, the biggest hole in Amadou’s game is his knack for scoring or assisting (or lack thereof). Diawara only scored 2 goals and assisted 2 in 70 Napoli appearances. This isn’t to say he’s completely useless in this part of the game; if a “hockey assist” was a statistic in football, Diawara’s stats would look a whole lot nicer. He works as a crucial part of a build-up to a goal despite typically not being the man to actually put the ball into the net. Considering he’s only 22, don’t expect this to be a permanent flaw in his game, and if he’s able to turn it into a strength, he may very well become one of the best midfielders in the world.
What Can He Become?
Just as it feels mildly sacrilegious to compare any young player to Francesco Totti, saying that a player seems like the next De Rossi just feels odd, and not just because he’s just made his move to Boca Juniors. But, if there was a player who you could picture as filling De Rossi’s cleats in the long term, it’d be Diawara.
At the age of 22, Diawara has shown consistency at various levels of Italian football, a tendency to combine defensive integrity and beautiful passing ability, and a strong mentality that means he won’t shrink from the spotlight. For a club that needs its players to have mettle, particularly following the departures of Francesco Totti and Daniele De Rossi, Amadou might be just what the doctor ordered in the short, medium, and long term.