After arriving from French giants Lyon in the summer, it’s fair to say Bertrand Traore hasn’t exactly set the Premier League alight with Aston Villa.
The Burkina Faso international had made a slow start to life at Villa Park, with no goals in the top-flight until December 20 when he netted against West Brom.
But since then, he’s shown real signs of finally finding his feet for Dean Smith’s side, bagging four goals in his last six games, including one against Newcastle in a 2-0 win on Saturday night.
The 25-year-old looked in the mood all game, and his confidence told when he scored with his weaker right foot. All night he looked to make things happen, with Magpies left-back Jamal Lewis having his work cut out trying to stop him.
Traore sent in three crosses and cracked off two shots on goal, almost double the amount of shots he’s taken on average in the Premier League this season (1.1). The former Lyon man also provided one key passes on the night too, again higher than his season average thus far.
The Birmingham Mail’s Ashley Preece gave him the second highest match rating of any Villa player with eight, saying: “Smith kept faith with ‘Berto’ who started his seventh-straight match now. Traore looked lively from the get-go and came up trumps with his fourth goal in his last six with a cool-as-you-like side-footed finish with his weaker right foot after 42 minutes.
“Gave Jamal Lewis problems as Cash looked to work with him whenever he could. Starting to become the £17 million player Villa signed in the summer. Oozed quality and had end product to boot. A real trickster.”
The Athletic’s Gregg Evans further claimed that “he’s turning into a big player now”, and that will be music to the ears of Smith, who no doubt would have been desperately hoping that Traore could sprinkle that extra bit of magic at the top end of the pitch.
Whilst Watkins may grab the headlines for finally breaking his goal-scoring duck – he hadn’t scored in his last nine league games – it was arguably Traore who stole the show for Villa.
Meanwhile, Villa must land this Scandinavian starlet…