From the youth ranks of Barcelona to Aston Villa, Middlesbrough and now making waves with Wolverhampton Wanderers in the Premier League – it has been a roller-coaster ride so far for Adama Traore.
It was seen as a risk-reward move when Wolves forked out a then club-record £18 million to rope in Adama Traore from Middlesbrough in the summer of 2018 following their promotion to the Premier League.
Traore’s was always regarded as a rough diamond in La Masia’s youth system and when he first arrived on the English shores, the main question was – would the managers be able to transform him into a world-class asset?
Well, Tim Sherwood and Remi Garde failed to have much of an influence on Traore at Aston Villa while the likes of Tony Pulis and Aitor Karanka, the man who had overseen his development in the youth ranks of Barcelona, somewhat managed to unlock his potential, though only at the Championship level.
Hence, it was always going to be intriguing to see how Traore’s development would shape up under a young and charismatic manager like Nuno Espirito Santo, who had worked wonders with young players like Diogo Jota and Ruben Neves to propel Wolves to a promotion-winning campaign in the Championship.
To sum it up, Traore’s performances at Wolves during the 2018-19 season of the Premier League was simply a throwback to his displays at Middlesbrough during Boro’s 2016-17 relegation campaign – dazzling footwork, incredible pace to beat a man and raw strength but, most importantly, very little composure on the ball and almost no end product.
Wolves rallied on to secure an impressive 7th-place finish in the Premier League but Traore’s first season at Molineux was a complete disaster, so much so, it looked like Nuno Santo had given up on the talented winger as a piece of bad business in the transfer market.
Traore managed to start only 8 games and featured as a substitute on 21 occasions, clocking up a meagre 896 minutes of Premier League football and contributing with only a single goal and an assist.
However, Wolves finally seem to be enjoying the fruits of their £18 million outlay in the market, with Traore making significant strides towards fulfilling his potential at Molineux this term.
We are only halfway through the ongoing season and the 23-year-old has already racked up 4 goals and 4 assists in 19 appearances, 16 of which have come as a starter.
Wolves currently find themselves 7th in the standings, just five points adrift of the top-four, while the Black Country outfit have also made it through to the knockout rounds of the Europa League.
The 23-year-old has been instrumental in whatever Wolves have achieved so far this season and his stellar run of form has led to large sections of the media and pundits dubbing him as the ‘most improved player in the Premier League’ this term.
With that in mind, let us take a look at his vital statistics from the ongoing campaign and compare them with his numbers from the previous season to highlight Traore’s massive improvement.
As per whoscored, Traore has averaged 23 passes per game at an accuracy rate of 73.9% this term in the Premier League, a significant improvement on his average of only 9.3 passes per game at an accuracy rate of 72.2% in the Premier League last season.
Those figures reflect his increased involvement in the team’s build-up play in the final third and hence a lot of improvement on his abilities to combine with his teammates further up the pitch rather than relying completely on individual brilliance.
Talking about creativity, Traore has averaged 1.3 key passes and 1 cross per game in the Premier League this season, numbers which are a lot better than his average of 0.6 key passes and 0.5 crosses from the previous campaign.
Dribbling has always been amongst Traore’s greatest strengths but he has also shown a marked improvement in that regard as well, averaging 5 dribbles per game in the Premier League this season as compared to an average of just 2.2 per game last season.
Traore’s defensive contribution had also been called into question numerous times last season but he has also made for his flaws in that area of his game, averaging 1.5 tackles and 0.5 interceptions as compared to 0.6 tackles and 0.2 interceptions the last term.
As per sofascore, Adama Traore averaged only 3.7 ground duels in the Premier League last season (success rate of 58.2%) but he has stepped it up a notch to clock up a staggering 8.7 grounds duels this term at a better success rate of 63.8%.
The 23-year-old only created a total of two big chances throughout the entirety of the previous campaign but he has already contributed with 4 so far this term.
Hence it is clear those numbers that Traore has, indeed, shown massive improvement in terms of the end product and creativity in his game this season.
There are not many players who manage to score against Pep Guardiola’s Man City in both legs but Traore has achieved that envious feat this term.
To conclude, the Spaniard certainly has all the raw materials to evolve into a continual nemesis for even the best defences in the Premier League should he continue to progress in the right direction.