Burnley have confirmed the signing of former Arsenal academy talent Ismaila Diallo via their official website, with one of his new team-mates playing a part in convincing him to join.
The 18-year-old midfielder teams up with the Clarets’ under-23 setup ahead of their Premier League 2 campaign, which begins this coming weekend; and he claimed that Josh Benson, who made a similar move from north London, had helped to sell the club to him.
Diallo said: “When Burnley came in, I spoke to him [Benson] about it. He was very supportive and telling me it was a good club. He told me how high the standards are and what they expect from you. He said ‘whatever you do. Make sure you work hard and be respectful’.
“I have kept track on how he’s been doing at Burnley and that he went on loan to Grimsby, playing in the first team and scoring goals. I was so happy for him when I saw that and when I saw his pathway he said it could be a similar thing for me.
“That was another reason to come. He told me anything I need, just to let him know. He’s been really good to me.”
Guinea-born midfielder Diallo spent eight years in Arsenal’s youth setup and briefly played alongside Benson in the Gunners’ academy before being let go by the north London club.
His chances of a move elsewhere had been impacted by a lengthy knee injury and the outbreak of the global pandemic, but he has now joined up with the Clarets and was among the substitutes for the first team’s training ground victory over Mansfield last Saturday.
Diallo can now look to Benson as a role model as he sets out on a path which will hopefully lead him to Burnley’s first team. The 21-year-old spent time on loan at Grimsby last season to gain senior experience, scoring twice in 11 games, and made the bench for the final six matches of the 2019/20 Premier League, albeit without getting on for his senior Clarets debut.
Arsenal’s academy has produced some exciting young talents in recent times, with Bukayo Saka becoming a first team regular at the Emirates Stadium last season, Eddie Nketiah and Reiss Nelson also getting first team chances and Ainsley Maitland-Niles emerging from the youth ranks to become a full England international.
Diallo has slipped through the Gunners’ ranks but has now resurfaced at Burnley, where hopefully he can progress steadily at under-23 level and ultimately graduate into an established member of the Clarets’ senior squad.
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