Man Utd backed into corner over Solskjaer’s awkward £37m parting gift

At the end of last season, Manchester United looked as though they would have to take a hit on their £37.2million transfer gamble Amad. The Ivorian wonderkid was snapped up in a big-money package from Atalanta on transfer deadline day in October 2020 despite relatively little senior experience.

That was evident during the second half of last season when Amad struggled to put together a run of form during his loan spell with Rangers when he participated in the club’s exceptional run to the Europa League final in Seville.

Upon return to Old Trafford, there were serious doubts as to whether Amad had the credentials required to make the grade at Manchester United but fast forward 12 months and the picture looks very different.

That’s because the spellbinding 20-year-old has been simply mesmerising during his time on loan at Sunderland this season where he has recorded 13 goals and three assists.

The Ivory Coast international has been integral to Sunderland’s late play-off push and has been a regular in attack for Tony Mowbray’s impressive young side as they target an unthinkable return to the Premier League.

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Amad has even left the door open on the prospect of a return to the Stadium of Light next season, should the Black Cats seal promotion via play-off glory.

He told Sky Sports: “Playing against Luton is very hard but I hope we’ll be in the Premier League next season and maybe I’ll come back, I don’t know.”

The truth is, Amad will now be seeking assurances of regular minutes this summer – even if that means heading out on loan for another season.

His loan with Sunderland has been incredibly rewarding as he is now reaping the rewards of consistent minutes at senior level in the Championship. It has brought the best from the tricky, jet-heeled forward, who has also proven he has an eye for goal.

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While Antony has shown signs of improvement at United, the club have already committed to fielding the Brazilian for the foreseeable future after shelling out huge money (£84m) on a transfer last summer.

Crucially, Antony was an Erik ten Hag signing which is why it will prove difficult for Amad to dislodge the former Ajax winger from the starting XI moving forward.

Furthermore, there is also Jadon Sancho and Alejandro Garnacho, meaning Amad’s pathway into Ten Hag’s starting XI is somewhat congested – regardless of his electric form.

It means his interest in regular football is likely to be better served elsewhere – whether that be out on loan or by pursuing a permanent transfer.

The brutal reality is that regardless of the fact Amad has been playing Championship football this season – he has showcased more promise and quality than what Antony has displayed in his debut season at Old Trafford.

Ten Hag would have to show guts to hand Amad a real opening next season because in doing so, he would be benching his £84m recruit in Antony, who is still struggling to win over the entirety of United’s fanbase.

But on the flip side, United will be in no rush to fast-track Amad into their starting XI as at 20 years old, he still has a very long career ahead of him.

The sticking point is that Amad may now feel as though he is in a position where regular football is the priority and that could prove damaging for United if they have hopes of keeping him as part of their first-team squad next season.

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