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Arsenal talented youngster joins Burnley

Burnley have added another young player to their ranks with the signing of former Arsenal midfielder Ismaila Diallo.

The 18-year-old has agreed a first professional contract and initially joins Burnley’s U23 set-up as the fifth new addition to Steve Stone’s squad, which this season steps up to Premier League 2 for the first time.

And Diallo is looking to follow the example of former Gunners’ team-mate Josh Benson, who has made impressive progress at Turf Moor since making the same journey north two years ago.

“When Burnley came in, I spoke to him about it. He was very supportive and telling me it was a good club,” said Diallo, who spent eight seasons in the youth-set up at Arsenal after moving to North London from hometown club Brighton.

“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 path-way 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.”

Benson, who this summer extended his own stay at Burnley and who has spent pre-season back around the first-team set-up following a successful loan spell with League Two Grimsby last season, is a couple of years older than Diallo.

But they did play together with the Gunners before Benson moved on and Diallo was also freed.

The Guinea-born central midfielder – whose brother Mohamed played in the youth set-ups at Arsenal and Stoke – then had to overcome a knee injury which, along with Covid-19, scuppered potential moves abroad last season.

And having worked his own way back to fitness, Diallo is delighted with the chance to re-launch his career with the Clarets.

“When I got injured it was a big disappointment,” he told the club’s official website. “When you’re at Arsenal you’re on top of the world and I had been there all those years,” he added.

“And then ‘bang’, you’re nowhere and no-one is interested because you’re injured. That was a big set-back, but I wanted to show I could get back.

“Burnley told me about their plans, the type of club they are and that they give you an opportunity if you work hard and you’re dedicated.

“I see myself as that type of player and I thought what I stand for suited the club. I thought straight away I would fit in.”

Diallo, one of the substitutes in the Clarets’ training-ground win over Mansfield Town last Saturday, joins goalkeeper Marc Richter, midfielder Will Rickard and defenders Marcel Elva-Fountaine and Connor Barrett in strengthening the U23s, who start their PL2 campaign at Wolves on Saturday.

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