Nuno looks to have solved the Traore conundrum
Adama Traore is one of the most enigmatic players in the top flight, but could finally have found his correct role.
Traore belongs in the same boat as many players in the past of the Premier League – extremely talented yet an underachiever.
No one who starts their career at Barcelona can be accused of being a bad player, and when Aston Villa snapped him up in the summer of 2015, it was viewed as a major coup for then boss Tim Sherwood’s side.
His performances on the field left big questions about his game intelligence, and 11 matches later, he was given an unlikely lifeline by Middlesbrough following Villa’s demise.
Again, he flattered to deceive, and again, he oversaw his team’s relegation. This time, no one came calling.
Traore knew he had to knuckle down and improve his game – ask any football fan who they think the quickest player in the world is and a lot would point to the Spaniard.
From a standing start, there is not full back on the planet that can match him for speed.
But the reason why he was slogging it in the Championship was his decision making – he knew how to beat a player with a drop of the shoulder and a burst of pace, but his final ball usually ended up hitting one of the stewards.
Reminder that in 2017-18 Adama Traore completed 30 more dribbles than the entire Burnley squad
— Duncan Alexander (@oilysailor) August 19, 2019
Boro undoubtedly improved him and at the beginning of last season, Wolves handed him potentially a last chance in the top flight.
Last season was again another indication of Traore’s shortcomings, and he mainly warmed the bench.
However, with Matt Doherty injured at the start of this season, he appears to have fallen into a new position, and it is one that has worked a treat so far.
There is more space for Traore to attack in playing at wing-back and with Wolves adopting a back three, not too much onus on him to drop back and defend.
Against Manchester United, he terrorised the tiring defence and his ability to bring the ball from back to front ultimately saw United cave under the pressure and led to the equaliser.
Then, against Torino in Thursday’s Europa League qualifier, he brilliantly picked out Diogo Jota for the second goal which could prove to be decisive for Wolves as they seek to reach the Europa League group stages.
Two games do not mean everything of course, but there are indications that Traore is being properly coached by Nuno to be a wide man with an end product.
The fact he has two men to aim for in the box helps matters, even more so considering one of them in Raul Jimenez is a brilliant in-box player.
“He is doing well,” said Nuno. “But Adama is a long process that we have to realise that he has to go step by step.
“There are things that need to improve, but that takes time, it takes time and the best is he is willing to do it and facing the challenge of a new position, new task and giving special characteristics for the team and he is doing amazing.”
Doherty is likely to replace Traore when fit, but the 23-year-old has offered glimpses of the player he can be, and Nuno deserves credit for unlocking some of that potential.