When Man Utd announced the signing of Mame Biram Diouf during the summer it wasn’t greeted with as much excitement as it was confusion. Many, if not most, had not heard of the young Senegalese striker that had been plying his trade in Norway’s Tippeligaen.
But for those that did, they saw an athletic pacy striker capable of scoring goals with either foot whilst being deadly in the air. Scoring 35 goals in 74 games his record was nothing to be sniffed at although not all of these appearances came whilst he lead the line as Molde would also employ him in wide positions.
After announcing his signing United loaned him back to Molde where he completed the season finishing 3rd top scorer with 17 goals and despite grabbing a brace in the cup final saw Molde lose on penalties to minnows Aalesund.
With their season over Diouf flew to Manchester to train with his new team and it was here, more than his performances in Norway, that he really made an impression.
It was thought that rather than apply for a work permit, United would loan him out again with Belgium or Molde again the destination but with Fergie proclaiming, “He’s been training with us and is looking very exciting”, United decided to pursue a work permit for the striker which he received yesterday.
United are used to have a wealth of striking talent and in recent years the likes of Van Nistelrooy, Cole, Solskjaer, Yorke and Sherringham having played upfront for us but our current strike force whilst still impressive doesn’t quite match up. Berbatov although a good striker has offered something different than goals now more effective in bringing other players into the attack whilst Owen has grabbed goals yet is being used mostly as a bench player.
Rooney has been on fire this season with 12 goals already but the addition of Diouf will be welcome as it takes some of the pressure off his shoulders.
Some will question if he can perform in the Premier League as it is massive step up in quality from Norway and there have been comparisons with a past United flop Manucho but there is a huge difference.
At just 22 he has plenty of time to develop whereas Manucho was 25, he has been constantly praised by United legend Ole Gunnar Solskjaer so United know full well what we are getting plus the Tippeligaen is of a higher standard to the Petro atletico that Manucho plied his trade in before joining United. So if he has the ability that Solskjaer and Ferguson believe him to then he has every chance to succeed at the club.
He is not available for the Leeds game, making the next possible date for his debut the derby game against Man City in the Carling Cup on January 6th. Ferguson will be reluctant to throw him in at the deep end but if he does it will be a good indication of how well Diouf will fare at Old Trafford.