This article is part of Football FanCast’s The Chalkboard series, which provides a tactical insight into teams, players, managers, potential signings and more…
Wolves have booked their place in the Europa League group stages for the first time in their history as a 5-3 aggregate win over Torino was enough to see them advance.
The qualification stage has been strenuous, having played six matches in the competition already but there have been plenty of highlights.
Raul Jimenez has bagged six goals whilst supporters have already been gifted with trips to Armenia and Italy this season.
One standout has been Adama Traore, who was handed his first start at right wing-back against Crusaders, providing an assist for Diogo Jota’s opener and has since recorded two more in the competition.
The winger-turned-defender has looked reborn in his new role, but it could have been oh so different.
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Back in April, TEAMtalk revealed that the Spaniard wasn’t in Nuno Santo’s long-term plans as he had failed to cement a regular first-team spot amongst the team last season – he made just eight Premier League starts.
Now nearly five months later, Traore has looked like the best choice they have at right wing-back especially with Matt Doherty’s rough start to the season, averaging a rating of 6.31 – though, he has been far from match fit.
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But one man’s misfortune is another man’s gain, and that has to be the case for the 5 foot 10 ace.
His performance on Thursday night against Torino showed he could compete on a big stage, against a team of top-draw quality considering they ply their trade in Serie A, unlike their previous opponents that play in the Northern Irish and Armenian leagues.
In the game, Traore recorded one assist, one key pass, won five dribbles, had a 100% success rate for tackling and had 76 touches, per MezzalaScout.
That’s quite an outstanding showing from a right wing-back.
His overall showings in the Europa League have been fabulous and demonstrates why Nuno would have been silly to sell him.
If Traore continues to keep Doherty out, deciding to maintain his services will look like a masterstroke.