Liverpool and Leipzig circling for Betis pearl Diao
Assane Diao, who is currently with Spain in the Under-19 European Championship, has only one year left on his contract. Liverpool and Leipzig are very aware of him.
Assane Diao is one of the three Betis players currently starring for Spain at the European Under-19 Championship in Malta (along with Félix Martí and Dani Pérez). The Heliopolitan club has high hopes for Diao - a tall, strapping left winger, who has already trained with the first team squad despite his young age (he will turn 18 in September). Other clubs on the continent has also taken note - RB Leipzig is just one of the clubs who have stated an interest in signing him and Liverpool are close on his trail.
He originally started out as a midfielder but his his attacking qualities were noted by Betis Deportivo boss Aitor Martínez, who moved him into a more advanced role out wide on the left. Diao has just one year left on his contract with Betis and talks to strike a new deal have been going on for some time but as of the moment, no agreement has been reached. Liverpool and Leipzig are two of the clubs who are known to have been tracking his development, but several other clubs from both the Premier League and the Bundesliga have taken note of his progression.
Pre-season with the first team squad
Interest from elsewhere is a worry for Betis, who are eager to tie the 17-year-old, one of the most promising players coming through their youth system, to a new contract. “All of the players who really stand out for the reserves and/or youth teams are usually called to take part in the pre-season with the first team squad. Assane has had a good season, playing in various different positions,” first team coach Manuel Pellegrini said of the youngster after having watched him in a number of training sessions with the senior squad.
Born in Ndongane, Senegal, Diao’s parents moved to Badajoz in the Extremadura region of Spain, when he was three years old. He spent his formative years in Cádiz’s youth team set-up along with his brother Ousseynou - both of them hold Spanish nationality.
At the European Under-19 Championship in Malta, Diao came on for the last 20 minutes of Tuesday’s 1-2 win over Iceland, replacing Dani Pérez in the opening group stage match. On Friday, he will have another opportunity to play when La Rojita take on Greece, followed by Monday’s meeting with Norway.
One thing is clear, Diao has already outgrown Betis’ Under-19s, with whom he played the Champions Cup final, and is now ready to move on to the next stage in his development, under Aitor Martínez’s supervision. Last season, he made 20 appearances in the Segunda Federación Division - the fourth tier of the Spanish league, scoring four goals and setting up another two for his team mates.