Adama Traore’s transformation this season has caught the eyes of many. It has been raising eyebrows not just in England, but otherwise too. After all, this is a player who is a La Masia youth product. He was always tipped to make it big and after some struggles at Middlesbrough and Aston Villa, he is finally coming of age.
He has always been criticised for a lack of a final ball. But that is one aspect of his play that Adama has been improving consistently under Nuno Santo. His searing pace and that final ball has made him one of the feared dribblers in the Premier League this season.
Quite recently, the Spain-born star was confident that he would not turn down Real Madrid just because he was at Barcelona. And this should send alarm bells ringing at the Santiago Bernabeu.
This season, Adama has four goals and four assists up his sleeves. His workrate has bumped up and he has been used as a wing-back on the right side on some occasions too. He is completing 5.6 dribbles per game, playing 1.3 key passes per game. On paper, it isn’t an insane number. But he is only improving. These numbers are only going to go up.
The tally of 1.3 key passes per game is the highest tally he has ever had in his career. Those dribbling stats are the second-best of his career too. Best ones came in his spell at Boro in the Championship back in the 2017-18 campaign, after which he came to the Molineux.
During Boro’s Premier League campaign in the 2016-17 season, Adama was a threat. But he never came up with that decisive blow. He would often provide a spark but couldn’t finish things off, as the club got relegated.
That season, Adama had a tally of 5 dribbles per game. But he could only complete 0.7 key passes per game. That’s a reflection of how far he has come.
More than that, Adama is also maturing when it comes to overall play. It isn’t just about his workrate. This season, he is playing an average of 23.2 passes per game. That’s the highest he has ever had in his career so far. The second-highest tally came in that very Premier League season with Boro- 13.7.
He is also making and winning more tackles and interceptions than ever- 1.2 and 0.5. That applies to total number of clearances and aerial duels too. He has moulded exceptionally within a single season. More than that, he suits exactly what Nuno wants on the right side, with Diogo Jota and Raul Jimenez upfront. Adama constantly gives them service.
Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp was full of praise for the winger recently. The German said (via BleacherReport):
“He is really dangerous. In a big space [Leicester striker] Jamie Vardy is difficult to defend, but I would say Traore is even more difficult to defend because his speed is exceptional.”
For a player who is still 23, those are very good numbers. And this is a player who will only improve.
At Real, Gareth Bale’s future is always up in the air. The constant controversy about his future never helps. The same applies for James Rodriguez. He has been linked with Everton in recent days. His future is far from secure, as a move to Napoli fell through in the summer.
Lucas Vazquez is known to be a faithful Zinedine Zidane guard. He is more of that workhorse who will work his socks off. Rodrygo Goes is also just growing in stature, as evident from his recent hat-trick against Galatasaray.
That right side of the pitch is something that Real will need fixing soon. It doesn’t have to be a development project-esque player like Rodrygo. It has to be a regular starter. He has to know the place and the culture in Spain. He needs to be a mature player who can do the dirty job when needed.
Adama, in that sense, is inch-perfect for that spot. He was at Barca for many years and had been with the Spain junior sides since the under-16s and below. The fact that he has often played at wing-back at Wolves is a sign of how he’s also become a grafter. The tackling stats from above show just that. He is familiar with the lifestyle in Spain, because of his background. And Real should be licking their lips at his development, let alone his comments.