The 19-year-old moved to Ibrox in a high-profile loan from Manchester United in January, bidding for more game-time some 12 months after being signed at Old Trafford for upwards of €25m.
Since then it hasn’t really transpired, despite a goal within five minutes of his debut and a name eulogised in an Abba song on the terraces. Just 203 minutes across five games and that solitary goal against Ross County to show is not the return those supporters visualised as they danced in Dingwall, and Mark Hateley believes the winger is stuck at a cross-roads in Rangers’ season with the title on the line.
“Diallo is just a young boy. He was bought for a big fee but he was not playing at Man United. He is a 19-year-old boy thrust into a football club where the demands are unbelievably high,” said Hateley. “It is a completely different football environment and to adapt then you need to play. At this moment in time you cannot allow anyone who is not at the races to play themselves into form.”
That is perhaps why Giovanni van Bronckhorst has turned to the Ivorian less and less since a disappointing Old Firm derby last month and an uninspiring appearance off the bench against Dundee United.
He is not alone though, Hateley admits. “I have seen seasoned World Cup pros come to Rangers and fall flat very quickly.” But his fellow January headliner Aaron Ramsey is also struggling to make an impression on the Rangers first team. When he does, he will be worth the wait, Hateley believes.
“Aaron Ramsey is a quality player. Steven Gerrard once said he’s probably the best midfield player he’d ever faced and that’s coming from one of THE very, very best.
“But to be showing that ability, you have to keep yourself fit. If he’s not fit enough, it’s hard to bring that into the collective right now and make use of that.
“If they get him fit and strong, and mentally ready, he is a talent – it’s just about getting him out there.
“He could be training every day but just falling short of some levels. They’ll be looking at all the data.”
Mark Hateley was promoting exclusively live Premier Sports coverage of Dundee v Rangers this Sunday from 3.30pm. Premier Sports is available on Sky, Virgin TV and the Premier Player from £12.99 per month, and on Amazon Prime as an add-on subscription.