Adama Traore returns where it all began.
Back after a six-and-a-half-year spell in England, Adama Traore has re-joined Barcelona. The Spanish winger left the Catalan giants as a scrawny teenager with a unique talent and potential at the age of 19 but has returned as a muscular express to the Camp Nou.
However, many find it difficult to understand his true potential. Some believe he is a unique player with dribbling qualities like one of the best in the world. For others, he has underperformed considering his potential and has criticised his game IQ.
The point isn’t what he can do but the player he would become once he acknowledges his true potential. For example, Real Madrid’s Vinicius Junior faced criticism for 2 consecutive years for his lack of composure in front of goal. But under Carlo Ancelotti, the Brazilian winger has become a powerful asset.
Traore’s former teammate, Xavi, is now his coach who demands quick, tricky and aggressive wingers who can stretch the pitch, a profile Traore fits. Xavi will also have an advantage while playing Traore over Dembele as the 26-year-old has an understanding of Barcelona’s style of positional play, something the coach has complained about from the current squad.
The statistics show that he has scored just 8 league goals in 160 appearances. Such a record justifies the overall view of Traore that despite his lightning pace and strong muscles, it counts for little with a lack of end product. That being said, he does offer creativity.
He can get past defenders very easily, which has made him one of the most creative players in the Premier League over the past four years. Along with creating chances for his teammates, Traore also wins fouls through a burst of pace on counterattacks.
According to Opta, he tops the list of players in the Premier League for total distance carried this season. This might be an unfamiliar characteristic, but it is similar to what Messi did in his Barcelona days when he used to carry the ball into the final third by dribbling past defenders.
Traore will bring plenty of pace and vitality to Xavi’sXavi’s attack. The former academy graduate will enhance the overall depth in the squad till the end of the season and could help them secure a top-four place in LaLiga this year.
Traore is a right-winger but can also fill in as a left-winger or play down the middle as a striker. His pace and versatility make him a key signing for Xavi, and with Dembele’s current situation, Traore will get enough opportunities at the Camp Nou over the next few months.
However, it needs to be seen whether Traore can adapt to LaLiga’s rigid style of play. The Premier League is more open and end-to-end, but in LaLiga, it is hard to break into defences as they offer fewer spaces, and when teams like Barca, who love to keep the possession, the opponents are pinned back into their half. That doesn’t offer a lot of room for Adama to exploit.
“He will adapt perfectly because he can unbalance defences. That’s the most important thing,” his former Youth League-winning coach Jordi Vinyals told SER radio on Friday.
Xavi will need to coach him on how to use his speed at the right moments while also improving his passing style. Traore’s return isn’t a bad move but an essential one considering Barcelona’s current status.