SUNDERLAND’S hopes of re-signing Amad Diallo have suffered another setback, with Leicester City having lined up the Manchester United forward as their preferred replacement for Harvey Barnes.

Amad’s future remains the subject of considerable conjecture, with Manchester United boss Erik ten Hag still to decide whether or not to include the Ivory Coast international in his first-team squad for next season.

Amad caught the eye in Manchester United’s friendly win over Leeds United in Oslo last week, leading to increased speculation that he could be playing his way into ten Hag’s senior squad for the new campaign.

That remains a distinct possibility, although ten Hag has sought to downplay the significance of a one-off friendly appearance and claimed a lot of different factors will influence his decision over what to do with Amad and the rest of Manchester United’s emerging youngsters.

“You don’t make conclusions after one week,” said ten Hag, whose side return to action with a friendly against French side Lyon in Edinburgh’s Murrayfield Stadium on Wednesday. “Some of the young players impressed me, but I don’t want to single someone out. We are just in the first week, and I expected these levels and these performances.”

Sunderland are in regular dialogue with Manchester United officials over Amad as they would love to re-sign the 21-year-old off the back of his successful loan spell at the Stadium of Light last season.

The Old Trafford hierarchy were impressed with Sunderland’s handling of the forward, and Amad is known to have developed a strong relationship with Black Cats boss Tony Mowbray, so the Wearsiders remain optimistic of being able to set up another loan if ten Hag decides the time is not right for Amad to be integrated into the first-team fold at Manchester United.


However, Sunderland are far from the only club that will be interested if Amad is given the green light to leave, with Premier League trio West Ham United, Sheffield United and Everton having been linked with possible moves earlier this summer.

Leicester are now the latest club to have expressed an interest in signing Amad this summer as their boss, Enzo Maresca, regards him as the ideal replacement for Barnes, who is expected to leave the King Power Stadium in the next few weeks.

Newcastle United are known to be extremely keen on Barnes, who is likely to command a transfer fee of around £35m this summer.

Leicester would be willing to reinvest a significant proportion of that fee on a loan agreement for Amad, meaning they could almost certainly outbid Sunderland. Manchester United would not necessarily go for the highest bidder if they released Amad, as they would want assurances about his game time next season and the way in which he would be coached and developed. That would potentially work in Sunderland’s favour, although the scale of the interest in Amad’s services means they would face a major battle to pull off a deal.

Sunderland’s recruitment team are also in discussions with the hierarchy at Manchester United over a deal for goalkeeper Nathan Bishop.

The Black Cats need a new second-choice goalkeeper to provide cover and competition for Anthony Patterson after last season’s number two, Alex Bass, was allowed to join AFC Wimbledon. Adam Richardson, who was a second-half substitute during Sunderland’s opening pre-season friendly at South Shields, is currently injured, meaning first-year scholar Matthew Young is currently part of the first-team squad in the United States.

Bishop, who spent part of last season on loan at Mansfield Town, is Sunderland’s preferred option for next season, and Manchester United could well sanction his departure once Andre Onana completes his move from Inter Milan.

With David de Gea having left at the end of his contract, Manchester United refused to allow Bishop to leave earlier this month as they needed him to provide cover for their pre-season games. The 23-year-old was an unused substitute in last week’s win over Leeds, but Onana’s arrival would shuffle him down the pecking order and increase the likelihood of being him allowed to join Sunderland.