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Scouting Juventus Transfer Target Amadou Diawara of Bologna

Adam Digby@@Adz77Featured ColumnistAugust 10, 2016

EMPOLI, ITALY - MAY 01: Amadou Diawara of Bologna FC in action during the Serie A match between Empoli FC and Bologna FC at Stadio Carlo Castellani on May 1, 2016 in Empoli, Italy.  (Photo by Gabriele Maltinti/Getty Images)
Gabriele Maltinti/Getty Images

With the Paul Pogba saga finally behind them, Juventus can turn their attention to the future and continue building what they believe will become one of Europe's best teams.

No longer content with dominating the Italian football landscape, the Bianconeri have made no secret of their lofty ambitions, as coach Massimiliano Allegri explained in an interview with La Gazzetta dello Sport earlier this summer.

adidas Football @adidasfootball

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"Anyone who has the opportunity to leave Juventus has to consider things very carefully, because right now Juve are among the top four European clubs," he said (h/t Football Italia).

“This is not a selling club that just lets its players go," Allegri added, and while Pogba clearly felt he could only realise his ambitions elsewhere, the Turin giants have made signings that can help them achieve their targets.

Signing Gonzalo Higuain and Miralem Pjanic certainly tightens the grip the Bianconeri have established on their domestic competition, robbing closest rivals Napoli and AS Roma, respectively, of arguably their best and most influential players.

Meanwhile, additions like Dani Alves and Medhi Benatia increase the level of experience within the squad, just as the likes of Marko Pjaca and Rolando Mandragora bring an injection of youthful exuberance to balance the side.

Tarek Khatib @ADP1113

The trio of Khedira - Marchisio - Pogba will start vs Palermo. Juventus has never lost with those 3 on the pitch. https://t.co/bfa8ke894X

Yet even with that plethora of new weapons at Allegri's disposal, there is a need to add a strong replacement for Pogba in midfield. It was a matter addressed in this previous post, but with Sami Khedira and Claudio Marchisio not expected to be fit when Serie A returns, Juventus appear undermanned in the centre of the pitch.

Mario Lemina, Stefano Sturaro and Kwadwo Asamoah have all proved their qualities in recent seasons, but relying on two of that trio for an extended period resulted in disaster last term. With the same two players missing, Juventus failed to win in their opening three games and had to recover lost ground when they came back into the side.

Keen to avoid a similarly poor start to 2016/17, the Bianconeri seem set to address the issue, with Bologna's Amadou Diawara among the names mentioned as a possible late addition for the Old Lady.

OptaPaolo @OptaPaolo

2 – The 2 youngest players with 15+ apps in the top-5 Euro leagues this season play in Serie A. Green. https://t.co/aC2w2l5s3o

Indeed, the Italian champions are not the only ones tempted by the talented 19-year-old, as his agent Robert Visan revealed during an interview with TuttoMercatoWeb in November (h/t Sean Kearns of the Metro):

There is a strong interest from Chelsea.

I work with Pini Zahavi, who everyone knows, but that does not mean that will he will go to Chelsea.

Also the likes of Manchester City, Tottenham Hotspur and Juventus follow him but with them I never speak of offers, only football.

Stepping into the void left by Pogba's high-profile departure would be another major move for the young midfielder, who incredibly was playing for a local church team in Guinea just over two years ago.

His first move to Italy came with San Marino, and then veteran sporting director Pantaleo Corvino spotted him and brought him to Bologna. In no time at all he was part of coach Roberto Donadoni's first team, going on to make 35 appearances for the Rossoblu during the 2015/16 campaign.

"He is a top prospect, he is still very young but when you are that good, age is not important,” the Bologna boss said, per the UEFA website. “He plays with enthusiasm. He may lack some experience but that's part of the game and will come with time."

That view is undoubtedly true, as a closer look at Diawara’s performances reveals. He is primarily an energetic defensive midfielder, with statistics taken from WhoScored.com showing he averaged 2.2 tackles, 2.7 interceptions and one clearance per game in Serie A last term.

OptaPaolo @OptaPaolo

1626 - Amadou Diawara (1626) was the youngest player with 1000+ passes attempted last season over the top-5 European leagues. Promise.

Those first two figures are superb returns, with the same source showing that no Juventus player who featured in more than 10 matches could better the first category, while only Marchisio (2.8) could top the second.

Yet Diawara also showed there is more to his game than simply his ability to destroy the play, as the Opta tweet above highlights. In fact, the youngster averaged 47.9 passes per game, according to WhoScored, connecting with an impressive 84.2 per cent of those attempts.

2015/16 Serie A

As can be seen from the table above—created using figures from WhoScored—his overall numbers stack up incredibly well for a player of his age, with many fields seeing him compare favourably with the talented midfielders already at Juventus.

There is, of course, much room for improvement, particularly concerning his shooting accuracy. According to Squawka.com, Diawara hit the target with just 8 per cent of his shots in 2015/16, a number that must rise dramatically if he is to make a major impact at a club like Juventus.

That can be said of his tackling, with the same source showing that the midfielder won just 35 per cent of the challenges he contested. Yet as the graphic below highlights, his aerial ability and skill in taking on defenders is already excellent, two more factors that hint at the quality he possesses.

Amadou Diawara 2015/16
Amadou Diawara 2015/16squawka.com

His expected departure from Bologna this summer has created problems, with the player failing to arrive for the club’s pre-season training camp last month and being fined as a result.

“It is not a pleasant situation for anyone, but I think he is the one who is being damaged the most by all this,” sporting director Riccardo Bigon told reporters, per Football Italia. “He certainly doesn’t look like a professional right now, so he’s only hurting himself.”

Yet Diawara’s representative hinted at the problems in late June, explaining to the Calciomercato website that Bologna had failed to offer the player a new deal and were pricing him out of a move elsewhere.

"We have not received any proposal for adjustment [of his contract] even remotely close to the salary of a player who is valued by the club at €20 million," Daniele Piraino said (h/t TalkSport). "Bologna say Diawara is worth €20 million, but they are paying him €3,000 per month as an inter-regional player."

The representative went on to say the Serie A club had rejected an offer of “more than €10 million," leading to the current situation, which is clearly hindering both Diawara and Bologna as the new season approaches.

He could help provide some depth for Allegri, but perhaps Juventus need somebody a little more mature and nearer the finished article.

For now, Diawara remains a potentially excellent prospect, but the Bianconeri already have a number of those in midfield and require more of a guaranteed level of performance.

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