FT Hidden Gems Series: Remember the name - Adama Traore

The outspoken Tim Sherwood who managed Tottenham and Aston Villa said he had a bit of both Ronaldo and Messi. The Belfast Telegraph pointed out that, "he's built like an absolute tank. Size of the arms on that man. One drive and it would be lights out". Catherine Wilson of ESPN FC commented on his remarkable “athleticism” also highlighting that his "footballing brain and teamwork skills are definitely up for debate." If you know Adama Traore, you probably understand what these people said and why I wrote this feature. If this is your first point of contact with the 22-year-old, you may realise that he is a work-in-progress, excellent work-in-progress. Note down the name of this Malian, he probably rock the football world quite soon. But who is he?

Adama was born in Spain to Malian parents and began his footballing career at Barcelona at the age of eight. Things didn’t work out as he might have envisioned as he managed to make a few countable appearance for the B-team as well as the first team. Perhaps, one of the Catalonia highlights for Adama was coming in late for Neymar in Barca’s 4-0 over Granada FC in the La Liga. He was just 17, at the time.

In 2015, the Spain youth team international arrived in the Premier League, signing for Aston Villa under Tim Sherwood. Times were hard at Villa Park. Traore appeared eleven times for the team that was eventually relegated to the Championship, scoring zero goals in the process. The winger then joined Middlesbrough a year later and was unfortunate to take part in 32-scoreless matches for the club which also got axed from the English Premier League. Stuff is beginning to take shape now for the young winger.

Adama Traore of Middlesbrough controls the ball as Jack Grealish of Aston Villa looks on during the Sky Bet Championship Play Off Semi Final second leg match between Aston Villa and Middlesbrough at Villa Park on May 15, 2018 in Birmingham, England.    (May 14, 2018 - Source: Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images Europe)    

Adama Traore of Middlesbrough controls the ball as Jack Grealish of Aston Villa looks on during the Sky Bet Championship Play Off Semi Final second leg match between Aston Villa and Middlesbrough at Villa Park on May 15, 2018 in Birmingham, England.

(May 14, 2018 - Source: Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images Europe)

 

He was named Middlesbrough Fans Player Of The Year, Players Player Of The Year and Young Player Of The Year in the 2017-18 Championship season where he scored five times and served up ten assists. Premier League newcomers, Wolverhampton Wanderers acquired his services in the just ended summer transfer window for a fee reported to be in the region of £18 million pounds.

In three more years, I think this buzzing around Zaha will be just a pin in the haystack compared to that we will hear of Adama Traore.
— Dennis Takaendesa, FirstTouch Africa

Now, what do I think of this player? He has come to the EPL for a second time when he is familiar with the league’s demands and playing for a club with big ambition to stay, demonstrated by their summer spending. He will get regular game time playing alongside some quality and experienced players in the form of Ruben Neves and Joao Moutinho - players who will really bring out the best of Adama. I mean, this guy might outpace Aubameyang in a foot race and his ability to take on players makes me think of Zaha. In three more years, I think this buzzing around Zaha will be just a pin in the haystack compared to that we will hear of Adama Traore. Of course, I probably exaggerated, but that’s just how exciting he is. I literally feel butterflies in my stomach.

Adam is yet to make the Wolves debut as he is still getting back to fitness after the holiday and an shoulder injury, but the hype around him is already of the charts. His new teammate and defender, Matt Doherty, described the winger to be “unplayable.”

We played against him last season and at times he’s unplayable – I’ve not seen that type of running with the ball, pace and power, from anyone.
— Matt Doherty, Wolverhampton Wanderers

Having been capped only by Spain’s youth teams, Adama is still eligible to choose either Spain or Mali for his international career. At FirstTouch, we are really watching Adama Traore’s space.

Enough talking. You may want to check the video below to see what the kid is made up of.