Adama Traore has emerged as one of the breakout stars of the current Premier League season, to the point where a player who made only eight top flight starts last term now has BBC Sport writing long-read features about him.
Ultimately though, the former Aston Villa and Boro man’s potential has always been clear to see. He’s quick, he’s powerful and he can take the ball past pretty much anybody – that can take you a very long way in football.
Even during a 2015/16 campaign that saw him make just 10 Premier League substitute appearances for Villa, Traore still averaged 2.5 dribbles per outing.
It’s always been a case of whether he can knit it all together to become a relentless goal threat, and that’s exactly what’s happened this time around. Returns of 5.4 dribbles and 1.4 key passes per game seem all the more significant now that they’ve resulted in four goals and seven assists.
Indeed, Traore has transformed from mercurial presence to virtually unplayable, and has accordingly been gaining some admirers – including his former club, Barcelona.
Not only do they have the natural allure and the financial power to prize the 24-year-old from Molineux if they become hell-bent on doing so, but there’s a personal element as well. The 5 foot 10 attacker has unfinished business at Barca, having spent eleven years there as a youngster before being moved on without really getting a chance in the first team.
No doubt, losing Traore would be a big blow to Wolves. As well as being the Midlands outfit’s second-top scorer and top provider in the Premier League this season, he’s recorded 10 joint goal participations with star striker Raul Jimenez and is clearly the front-man’s most potent supply line.
We also saw evidence of the Spaniard’s impact on Friday night as Wolves limped to a scoreless draw with Leicester City. Due to a recently dislocated shoulder Traore wasn’t able to start the game and it ended up being an incredibly underwhelming encounter, lacking any kind of explosiveness or attacking flair until he entered the pitch with 26 minutes left to go.
But there’s one statistic particularly that hammers home just how big a loss Traore would be if he ended up moving on this summer: as recorded by Soccerbase, Wolves’ win rate has been a staggering 14% lower without the winger in the starting XI this season, dropping to a mere 33%.
From the twelve games he’s not started, the Molineux side have failed to score in four of them, compared to just three from the 30 in which he’s been involved from the off.
That tells its own story of how dependent Wolves are on Traore right now. With clubs of Barcelona’s stature circling, perhaps Nuno needs to find a solution to that before the summer comes around.