Adama Traore has very quickly become one of the most menacing players in English football.
The Wolves winger is a frightening bustling ball of energy. Once he gets going, he embodies a roadrunner. His relentless pace is a sight to behold, both with and without the ball.
Therefore, it’s rather surprising to hear that he hasn’t scored in the Premier League for over a year. In 2019/20, he discovered the best form of his career at the highest level. The Spaniard scored four times, but what was most impressive was his nine assists in the Premier League.
The rapid wide man embodies an old fashioned flanker. He beats his man and then sticks in the cross. There is no nonsense to his play, merely a struggle to sometimes find an end product.
Though, that hasn’t done enough to deter potential suitors. Traore isn’t short of them and given his qualities, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him leave Wolves in the coming years. His natural speed is supremely rare and to quote Michael Owen, he “can scare any team.”
Traore, of course, previously worked with Victor Orta at Middlesbrough and it would appear that the director of football is keen on a reunion.
After Leeds signed Raphinha last summer, splashing out on another wide player might not make much sense, especially at the quoted £40m. However, opportunities to sign a player with Traore’s qualities come about very rarely.
What former Leeds player could he embody by arriving at the club? Cast your minds back 11 years and the dazzling feet of a certain Max Gradel may emerge in your memory.
The Ivorian had many of the same qualities as Traore, using incredible physical attributes to score 25 goals in 82 outings for Leeds.
Gradel hasn’t had the traditional career and after rejecting Arsenal as a teenager, made his way to Elland Road via Leicester and Bournemouth. His mesmeric penetration stood to attention immediately as a young player.
Writing for The Athletic, Leeds guru Phil Hay previously outlined Gradel’s greatest attributes, labelling one of the qualities we associate with Traore: “Gradel had the benefit of his core strengths: pace, creativity, good finishing and the ability to beat a man,” he wrote.
When he first arrived at Leeds, the player himself said: “I was direct, I could dribble and I could go past people. I could score goals and create goals. That was my job and I didn’t try to be clever. Don’t try to be the guy who does all the tricks and tries to look good. Just do what you’re good at or get out of the team. I went with that attitude and it worked for me.”
In many senses, this is exactly what Traore has worked out he needs to be. His end product was questionable prior to last season but he simplified his game, didn’t try to be too clever and consequently helped himself to 13 Premier League goal involvements last term.
Gradel, now 33, ultimately departed for Saint-Etienne in Ligue 1, but he left behind a glaring hole in terms of speed.
Traore, however, could help bring that attribute back to Elland Road. That’s precisely why they must sign him.