By George Overhill

18th Apr, 2022 | 9:03pm

Lack of football the story of Rangers loanee Amad Diallo's career so far

The January loan move to Rangers for Manchester United teenager Amad Diallo has been heading downhill since five minutes into his debut.

The Ivorian forward opened the scoring at Ross County that far into his opening game for the reigning Scottish champions, but his arrival coincided with the beginning of the end of their title defence.

There was considerable excitement upon his arrival in Glasgow, which was illustrated by him taking the number nine shirt and being thrown straight into the starting XI.

When he scored immediately it appeared he was set to light up the Scottish Premiership ready to return to Manchester as the player they hoped he would become when they invested what could end up totalling £37million in him, despite only a handful of appearances for Atalanta.

When he moved to Old Trafford a year earlier, then United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer had said: “I believe he is one of the most exciting young prospects in the game.” (Sky Sports)

Instead, as Gers’ season faltered, so did Diallo’s involvement. But where the team picked back up he didn’t really return.

The Ross County game finished in a sloppy 3-3 draw and the 19-year-old was substituted just after the hour. He was handed another opportunity to start in the self-destruction at Celtic that saw the Hoops take a lead in the title race it appears they will keep until the end of the season.

He was one of three sacrificed in a half-time triple substitution, with the visitors 3-0 down at Celtic Park and appears not to have been trusted since. In the ensuing 11 weeks he has started a single game, the Cup visit to fourth-tier Annan Athletic.

Outside of that appearance he has managed a total of 72 minutes in all competitions since the Old Firm derby.

Forgotten man

Manager Giovanni van Bronckhorst hasn’t had much room for manoeuvre as the title defence crumbled, and hasn’t turned to the loanee in any of the important games since.

Diallo has been an unused substitute in all of the knockout ties in the Europa League, and the most recent pair of Old Firm clashes.

His cameo against Dundee United two months ago injected some much-needed impetus into a flat display, but too late to take an important three points, but in his latest outing at St Mirren (10 April) his most notable contribution was missing a sitter in a glorified training game with the opponents well beaten.

He probably wouldn’t have featured that day were the crucial second leg of the Europa League quarter final not four days later which players needed resting for.

Questions have been asked of van Bronckhorst’s ability to rotate his squad, as he seemed overly attached to a central core of around 13 players through February and March, and any appearances from anyone outside that group understandably lacked much rhythm.

This is surely a particular issue for the former Atalanta winger who, despite his lofty reputation, has only made 12 senior league appearances in his entire career.

Even across all competitions and internationals that number only rises to 24.

His manager at Ibrox cited a lack of football for, ironically, his lack of football, saying recently (via Manchester Evening News): “Also the level of playing now. He played a couple of games with United but only in the reserves so the intensity that he will be feeling in Scotland is much higher.”

But the senior level anywhere is going to be more intense if he continues to not experience much of it. He had moved to Scotland to do that.

The lack of output from fellow January signings James Sands and, until recently, Aaron Ramsey suggests it may not be entirely an issue with the player.

And with the Scottish Cup final and Europa League semi-finals coming up there is still the chance to have a memorable impact even if signs don’t suggest that is likely.

But currently Diallo is in danger of forever being seen as potential without ever being given a proper opportunity to realise it.