Skip to content
Opinion: Diawara adds balance to midfield

Our columnist takes a look at Amadou Diawara, after the midfielder completed his move to the Giallorossi earlier this week...

Roma's acquisition of Amadou Diawara from Napoli is another fine piece of business - to go with Leonardo Spinazzola's signing - that kicks off Paulo Fonseca's reign at the club.

Keen to reinforce the squad ahead of an important season for the club, the Diawara deal makes perfect sense - especially as he has racked up over 100 top level appearances for Bologna and Napoli across Serie A, the Champions League and the Europa League already. 

That experience should see him integrate relatively smoothly into life at Roma.

After only making 19 appearances last season at Napoli, Diawara will be looking to recapture the form he displayed during his time working with Maurizio Sarri, which saw him grow into an accomplished operator on his way to shining against the likes of Manchester City, Real Madrid and Fonseca's Shakhtar Donetsk in Europe.

A holding midfielder of immense quality, he's honed his craft tirelessly and learned so much working with some brilliant coaches such as Carlo Ancelotti, Maurizio Sarri and Roberto Donadoni during his stint in Italy so far.

This means he joins as a player who's got an excellent tactical understanding and knowledge, which has only been heightened by playing alongside the likes of Jorginho, Marek Hamsik and Allan, plus one who should have no worries adapting to Fonseca's philosophy.

A superb passer and facilitator of possession phases, he's set to contribute heavily in this regard, with his aptitude here ensuring he connects, constructs and helps animate attacking passages efficiently.

Boasting a fantastic range of passing, he has a pass to match almost any situation. So adept at progressing the ball through the thirds with his pinpoint distribution over short and intermediate distances, he links play accurately and weights his passes nicely so his targets can control the ball easily on their preferred foot. This consequently sees him move the ball with tempo and conviction, as he's always on the lookout to keep things ticking over to break down his adversaries.

His precise one- and two-touch passing repertoire deserves special mention, with this not only allowing him to combine in tight spaces to breathe life into attacks but also to draw out opposition pressers and exploit spaces behind them using methods like the up back through principle.

If no viable options are available, he won't force the issue and risk giving the ball away cheaply, for he has the presence of mind and technical skills to either patiently recirculate possession or hold onto the ball while he waits for a weakness in the opposition block to arise.

Careful and considered, he therefore only hits penetrative vertical passes or defence splitting ground through balls if the opportunity presents itself. The same concept applies when he's launching long balls, as he's calculated and very effective here too, with his capacity to switch the play swiftly and hit incisive through balls in behind especially notable.

Forever scanning his nearby surrounding, he constantly gives himself an updated mental picture of his environment so he knows where his teammates, the opposition and the vacant spaces are.

In addition, the way he has his head up prior to receiving further aids his decision-making process, so he's aware of what the best action to take is and where his colleagues are positioned just before he hits any potential pass.

Comfortable carrying the ball forward, he uses his dribbling to gain territory, weave away from trouble or when hoping to provoke a pressing action from a foe to open passing lanes. Nimble in confined zones and capable of riding challenges, his close control and strength serve him well when placed under duress to remain calm.

Some extra little details he gets spot on are how he'll control the ball with the foot furthest away from his opponent and get his body between his marker and the ball, so he can shield the ball while he chooses what to do next.

The technically proficient regista accompanies the aforementioned qualities with his intelligent movement by strategically recognising vacant spaces that he can exploit to propel his team upfield. Often asked to drop deep between the central defenders or just in front of them, his positioning successfully generates numerical or positional superiorities to help bypass the press smoothly.

As the ball reaches wider areas, he'll shift across to supply an outlet so his team can switch the angle of the attack or generate an overload to break down the opposition down the flank. Importantly, when doing so, he provides structural security behind his advanced winger and fullback, so his team has some coverage in case of a turnover.

If he's not able to be used due to being man marked or stuck behind an opposition cover shadow, he has the nous to drag his man away with him, something that can open passing lanes and cause a slight disconnect in the opposition block.

While his impact is most keenly felt in the offensive end, his defensive output is still at a high level. Positionally sound and disciplined, working under the likes of Sarri and Ancelotti, two defensively organised tacticians, should hold him good stead working under the meticulously structured Fonseca.

Knowing where to situate himself to break up attacks and use his cover shadow to block passing routes, this helps force the opposition to pass away from dangerous central areas.

Well versed in the art of pressing, he angles his harrying well and reacts to triggers quickly like when an opponent receives with their back to goal, in an open body posture or if an underhit pass is on its way.

An energetic counterpresser to boot, he springs to life rapidly once possession is lost, hoping to regain possession to attack again from an advanced location against unset defences.

Making coherent decisions from his holding role, Diawara is a great judge of when to step out, hold his post, shift laterally, drop back or support a teammate.

Hard-working and never one to shirk his responsibilities, his physical attributes also serve him admirably on the defensive end, thus meaning he's staunch in the tackle, competent in aerial duels, able to outmuscle his foes and uses his long legs to nip in to deal with 1v1s.

Statistically speaking, the Conakry-born starlet's quality is illustrated aptly over the last four seasons: as he's averaged 57.66 passes per game at 90.5% completion, 2.61 accurate long balls pg, 0.4 key passes pg, 4.75 interceptions pg, 1.3 tackles pg and 3.4 ball recoveries pg.

With the ability to add plenty of balance and stability in both phases of play, the Guinean international looks set to be a key figure under the newly installed Portuguese tactician.

Currently away with Guinea at the African Cup of Nations, it'll be fascinating to see him take the field for the Giallorossi and demonstrate his worth to the Olimpico faithful.

 
echllogoeps Created with Sketch. Group 18 Copy Created with Sketch. 53079FE7-D159-40A0-8A83-26281B0D3D33 Created with sketchtool. 976DC860-943B-432F-9E9C-CB9AC395B97F Created with sketchtool. 172C4F03-2B22-49FE-A880-A4C1985B19F7 Created with sketchtool. 53079FE7-D159-40A0-8A83-26281B0D3D33 Created with sketchtool. 976DC860-943B-432F-9E9C-CB9AC395B97F Created with sketchtool. 172C4F03-2B22-49FE-A880-A4C1985B19F7 Created with sketchtool. 45E49ECC-5769-44F4-97EA-EDE23E5CB428 Created with sketchtool. CC731668-0119-48B2-B401-BACA731EA471 Created with sketchtool. 0CCDF29C-1F7C-4F46-921A-EC230ACEE372 Created with sketchtool. 9EE80E93-DA55-44A3-BB86-719DDC115D67 Created with sketchtool. 86A6C4DD-D877-4C22-A527-8B9666AA9DD0 Created with sketchtool. 9EE80E93-DA55-44A3-BB86-719DDC115D67 Created with sketchtool. 42E886A7-7224-4FDC-BBEB-01976002C351 Created with sketchtool. C38CE427-9814-4B47-91C9-66896A6EB2BE Created with sketchtool. C38CE427-9814-4B47-91C9-66896A6EB2BE Created with sketchtool. C38CE427-9814-4B47-91C9-66896A6EB2BE Created with sketchtool. 40C8A19E-A06F-4836-ABD8-C5AE68BC33DB Created with sketchtool. 763B01E1-3D00-402A-B0C3-1DD729BBA531 Created with sketchtool. 644E21E0-3CB1-4F6B-B321-22391C0CD429 Created with sketchtool. team-logo / WIN Created with Sketch. team-logo / PW Created with Sketch. team-logo / LOST Created with Sketch. team-logo / PL Created with Sketch. 0CCDF29C-1F7C-4F46-921A-EC230ACEE372 Created with sketchtool. 033561FA-5AC5-424E-BFCB-752595AE0B20 Created with sketchtool. 45E49ECC-5769-44F4-97EA-EDE23E5CB428 Created with sketchtool. CC731668-0119-48B2-B401-BACA731EA471 Created with sketchtool. 0CCDF29C-1F7C-4F46-921A-EC230ACEE372 Created with sketchtool. 9EE80E93-DA55-44A3-BB86-719DDC115D67 Created with sketchtool. 86A6C4DD-D877-4C22-A527-8B9666AA9DD0 Created with sketchtool. 9EE80E93-DA55-44A3-BB86-719DDC115D67 Created with sketchtool. 53079FE7-D159-40A0-8A83-26281B0D3D33 Created with sketchtool. 976DC860-943B-432F-9E9C-CB9AC395B97F Created with sketchtool. 172C4F03-2B22-49FE-A880-A4C1985B19F7 Created with sketchtool. 45E49ECC-5769-44F4-97EA-EDE23E5CB428 Created with sketchtool. CC731668-0119-48B2-B401-BACA731EA471 Created with sketchtool. 9EE80E93-DA55-44A3-BB86-719DDC115D67 Created with sketchtool. 86A6C4DD-D877-4C22-A527-8B9666AA9DD0 Created with sketchtool. 9EE80E93-DA55-44A3-BB86-719DDC115D67 Created with sketchtool. 42E886A7-7224-4FDC-BBEB-01976002C351 Created with sketchtool. C38CE427-9814-4B47-91C9-66896A6EB2BE Created with sketchtool. C38CE427-9814-4B47-91C9-66896A6EB2BE Created with sketchtool. C38CE427-9814-4B47-91C9-66896A6EB2BE Created with sketchtool. 40C8A19E-A06F-4836-ABD8-C5AE68BC33DB Created with sketchtool. 763B01E1-3D00-402A-B0C3-1DD729BBA531 Created with sketchtool. 644E21E0-3CB1-4F6B-B321-22391C0CD429 Created with sketchtool. 033561FA-5AC5-424E-BFCB-752595AE0B20 Created with sketchtool. 45E49ECC-5769-44F4-97EA-EDE23E5CB428 Created with sketchtool. CC731668-0119-48B2-B401-BACA731EA471 Created with sketchtool. 763B01E1-3D00-402A-B0C3-1DD729BBA531 Created with sketchtool. C38CE427-9814-4B47-91C9-66896A6EB2BE Created with sketchtool. C38CE427-9814-4B47-91C9-66896A6EB2BE Created with sketchtool. C38CE427-9814-4B47-91C9-66896A6EB2BE Created with sketchtool. 40C8A19E-A06F-4836-ABD8-C5AE68BC33DB Created with sketchtool. 763B01E1-3D00-402A-B0C3-1DD729BBA531 Created with sketchtool. 644E21E0-3CB1-4F6B-B321-22391C0CD429 Created with sketchtool. 7CB4E955-9512-49F4-B03B-933CF03CA2FD Created with sketchtool. 53079FE7-D159-40A0-8A83-26281B0D3D33 Created with sketchtool. 976DC860-943B-432F-9E9C-CB9AC395B97F Created with sketchtool. 172C4F03-2B22-49FE-A880-A4C1985B19F7 Created with sketchtool. 45E49ECC-5769-44F4-97EA-EDE23E5CB428 Created with sketchtool. CC731668-0119-48B2-B401-BACA731EA471 Created with sketchtool. 0CCDF29C-1F7C-4F46-921A-EC230ACEE372 Created with sketchtool. 9EE80E93-DA55-44A3-BB86-719DDC115D67 Created with sketchtool. 86A6C4DD-D877-4C22-A527-8B9666AA9DD0 Created with sketchtool. 9EE80E93-DA55-44A3-BB86-719DDC115D67 Created with sketchtool. 42E886A7-7224-4FDC-BBEB-01976002C351 Created with sketchtool. C38CE427-9814-4B47-91C9-66896A6EB2BE Created with sketchtool. C38CE427-9814-4B47-91C9-66896A6EB2BE Created with sketchtool. C38CE427-9814-4B47-91C9-66896A6EB2BE Created with sketchtool. 40C8A19E-A06F-4836-ABD8-C5AE68BC33DB Created with sketchtool. 763B01E1-3D00-402A-B0C3-1DD729BBA531 Created with sketchtool. 644E21E0-3CB1-4F6B-B321-22391C0CD429 Created with sketchtool. 033561FA-5AC5-424E-BFCB-752595AE0B20 Created with sketchtool. 033561FA-5AC5-424E-BFCB-752595AE0B20 Created with sketchtool. Icons/Search/1000 F3916FC0-768E-4027-A1D5-CC66110459CF Created with sketchtool. Play Artboard 1 Icon / Social / Android@3x Created with Sketch. icon-dropdown icon-dropdown Created with Sketch. CB_Linked_Icon_Close CB_Linked_Icon_Close Check Check F896540F-C96F-4488-888D-5ECB022F43CE Created with sketchtool. Icons/Attachment/1000 Created with Sketch. CB_Linked_Icon_Arrow CB_Linked_Icon_Arrow CB_Linked_Icon_Arrow Icon / Social / iOS@3x Created with Sketch.