If you haven’t seen or heard of Adama Traore, it’s time to take notice.
The Boro winger, previously of Barcelona and Aston Villa, is a player who is currently finding himself at the top of many stats charts and catching the eye of many as a future superstar.
He has completed more take-ons this season than Messi, Hazard, Neymar…and the list goes on. I know what you’re thinking; the Championship isn’t of the standard that the other players are playing at, and of course, that is correct; however, for those of you who do know Traore, you’ll know that in terms of dribbling ability, he actually put in some pretty good shows against Arsenal and Man City in the Premier League last season. What was lacking then, that isn’t now, is his final product.
His development seems to have turned a corner and a recent call up to the Spanish under 21 squad shows that his current form hasn’t gone unnoticed.
He is a player who came to Boro with a reputation of being strong, super quick and very skilful, but not necessarily having that final product; he has caused frustration for many managers, players and fans.
There is absolutely no doubt he has rare raw talent and can beat players for fun but has never really began to look like fulfilling his potential…until now.
So why the change?
Strangely enough, out of all the managers that have tried to get this attacking player to improve his forward play, it’s Tony Pulis, a manager who came with a reputation of not playing the pretty stuff, who has raised Adama’s game.
All of Traore’s previous coaches at the Riverside tried give him guidance on his decision making whilst trying to use his ability as an impact sub.
Aitor Karanka, for example, would usually only allow Adama to play on the same wing as the dugout so he could try and direct his every move like some sort of puppeteer. This was never going to work. Guidance yes, not allowing him the freedom to make his own decisions, absolutely not.
Garry Monk, a manager who was dubbed as progressive and forward thinking, never really got that style of play going for Boro and seemed to treat Traore as a risk; he was another who saw Traore’s skill and pace as something that in most occasions could only be used late in games as an impact sub.
Pulis has taken a different approach; he has not only given him guidance, but shown him the faith he needs by giving him the necessary game time to learn. You can’t improve if you’re sat on the bench and taking the impact sub approach of the previous managers is thankfully not something Pulis has done. He has seen Traore’s potential and instilled a team work ethic; he has given him clear direction.
Tim Sherwood, Adama’s manager at Aston Villa, said that he was a player who footballers didn’t want to play against but didn’t want to play with either; by that he seemed to be indicating that Traore was a defender’s worst nightmare but also a player who frustrated his own teammates by not passing the ball.
Watching Traore now is worlds away from that talented but ball greedy player that we once saw. Yes he takes people on, but he doesn’t do it every time, he chooses his pass better, he delivers a cross when needed and even tracks back. He works hard for the team and is clear on his role.
Under Garry Monk, Traore scored no goals in 12 games. He’s scored 5 under Pulis in 14. Pulis really has made a huge difference not just in stats but in performance.
Traore is still no where near the finished article, and he can still frustrate at times, but the level of performance and improvement in final delivery is turning heads and that pace is still breathtaking. It’s like watching someone run on fast-forward.
Seeing him dance past 3 and 4 players is now an occurrence every game and that is usually followed by a decent ball or drawing a foul in a dangerous area. He is the most exciting player I have seen in a Boro shirt since Juninho in his prime, which is backed up with 6 Man Of The Match awards since Pulis took over.
Watching this young player (22) in action is truly special and if his talent is nurtured correctly, the world is his. My fear is that in the summer, a big move may come before he is quite ready, which may halt his development but only time will tell.
For a Boro fan, it’s great to see a player of his ability in a Boro shirt and we can only hope we can keep him for as long as possible.
With a the right management, who knows just how good he will be and right now, he really is the Middlesbrough Messi.
Boro fans, what are your thoughts on Adama’s development? Let us know in the comments below!
featured image credit Youtube