After confirmation of Gjanni Alioski’s departure, Leeds United boss Marcelo Bielsa could sign his club a new cult hero in Wolves maverick Adama Traore.
Reports in recent days have suggested that the Whites are interested in signing the winger this summer, with claims late last year initially revealing that Bielsa’s side were keen on luring him away from Molineux.
And, with news coming out of Leeds that Alioski will indeed leave Elland Road for good after seeing his contract expire at the club, Whites fans will be looking around for the next real character to make Yorkshire their home.
While Traore may not be in the same mould as Alioski in terms of being a real wind-up merchant who can get on opposition players’ nerves, the Spaniard is already a sensation at Wolves for his playing style and the unique tricks he employs to dominate.
Named by The Birmingham Mail in their compiled list of cult heroes from Molineux, Traore really caught everybody’s attention when he started putting baby oil on his arms to give himself a new advantage.
Traore himself said: “Opponents were grabbing my arm for me not to move, pulling my shoulder. If you put on the oil, it’s impossible for them to grab me, especially if I’m moving as well.
“In the first game it was very funny because many players grabbed my arm and they couldn’t catch me. They were asking, ‘What happened?’ and I kept saying I didn’t know! Everyone knows now but it doesn’t matter. It’s important for me because players have to use another tactic. Now I have the oil on my arm, I can slip (away).”
The baby oil trick is just a snapshot of the kind of unique player that he is, and having been hailed as a “machine” and someone who’s “been scaring defenders” by former England star Rio Ferdinand just last year, the £100k-a-week earning Traore is the kind of frightening winger who players hate coming up against.
Averaging an impressive 4.1 dribbles per game – the highest in the top-flight last season – and being fouled 2.3 times per match, the third-most in the division, the £26m-rated Spaniard causes chaos whenever he’s on the pitch.
Built like a battering ram but with the speed of an Olympic sprinter, Traore gets people off his seat and has everybody watching his every move.
Not every cult hero becomes one for the same reason. While Alioski has endeared himself into the hearts of Leeds supporters with his antics over the years, Traore could do the same but by doing his talking on the pitch.
Two unique players for two different reasons.