Defender | Borussia Dortmund | France
The good news for Abdou Diallo is that, as captain of France’s U21 side and having been bought by the German league leaders for almost £30m last summer, you’d expect that his career will see him end up as a household name in countries around the world where, to paraphrase Vladimir Putin, “soccer is popular”.
The bad news, however, is that this France side is so spectacularly good that players in all positions are (almost) literally queueing up to get a chance in Didier Deschamps’ World Champions. Indeed, at Borussia Dortmund, too, yet another talented young Frenchman to contend with.
The solidity and physicality of a player whose height means he can compete effectively in the air belies an intelligent defender who can switch between a back four or a back three with ease. A move to Dortmund is a great sign that Diallo is the real deal - how many times have Michael Zorc and his team unearthed a real gem?
2018 Has Been…
...A stellar rise.
For the sake of illustration, let’s get a running jump at this by rewinding a year and a half - stopping just a few months before this review begins. At that point Diallo, sensing that first team football opportunities were going to be easier to come by in Germany than in France moved to Mainz and signed a five-year deal with the former club of both Thomas Tuchel and Jurgen Klopp. A year - and 30 first team appearances - later, the Frenchman was being sold for an impressive fee to a club who were in desperate need of a solid defender.
The summer transfer to Dortmund now looks to have been a shrewd move for both parties as they sit top of the league before the German Winterpause.
Settling in at Borussia Dortmund should be the priority now for a player who has all the attributes, but who still needs to prove himself at the top level.
Diallo has looked shaky at times in a Yellow and Black shirt - though moving to a new club is never easy - and there’s the not insignificant battle for positions in the backline at the Signal Iduna Park with the aforementioned fellow Frenchman Dan-Axel Zagadou rising to the challenge as well as the young Swiss international Manuel Akanji.
A seat at the top table of the French national team is not an impossibility, but he’ll have to prove that he can do it at Dortmund first. Time will tell if Diallo can live up to the expectation.