Not so long ago rumours about the fastest winger on the planet signing for Wolves would have been met with universal fanfare.
It’s perhaps a sign of the times then that there isn’t such unanimous joy over Adama Traore’s imminent club-record arrival from Middlesbrough.
The naysayers point to a lack of end product, despite the 22 year-old clocking up 10 assists and 5 goals from just 24 starts and 8 sub appearances last season.
Others suggest he’s too raw and unpredictable to be successful in Nuno’s meticulous setup where the focus is on intelligent use of the ball and precise positioning out of possession.
Perhaps it’s right to have those concerns, but I myself am just excited by the potential.
Nobody believes we’re buying the finished product, but to me this just feels like the right moment, the right coach and the right team to extract the maximum out of such a prodigious talent.
Having come through at Barcelona and adjusted to English football over a punishing three season apprenticeship in the Premier League and the Championship, he shouldn’t need to acclimatise. He knows what to expect.
And surrounded by so many technicians in a well drilled Wolves side, he’ll get the ball in the areas of the pitch where he wants to operate.
If you look at the hundreds of YouTube clips of Traore it’s immediately clear that one defender can’t cope with his pace (we saw it ourselves in that famous ‘9 man win’ at the Riverside last season) and that in itself opens up the delicious possibility of freeing others like Jota and Costa to occupy the spaces in behind.
Equally, those searching diagonal passes we saw from Coady and Neves last season can get him isolated against retreating full-backs, which is another frightening prospect.
“Very sad to see Traore Leaving. I was hoping we’d be able to tempt him into one more year for a promotion push, but unfortunately, the money and Premier League football is simply too good for all parties to turn down.”
“End product is still an issue. His delivery is getting better and he’s managed to get himself some goals for the first time last season. But, his decision making, in general, does need a little bit of work. Rather than give a simple pass to keep the play ticking over he’ll sometimes drive down closed alleys and lose the ball, I’m not too sure Moutinho and Neves will be best pleased if he does that!”
“Before this season, I was actually unsure if he could actually strike a shot properly as many times he’d toe punt or not make a great connection. This piece of footage sums up what I mean.”
“I think success at Wolves depends where he plays this season. If he’s played as a right winger I can’t foresee any issues but if deployed in Wolves preferred system last year as a wing back I think that would limit his potential.”
It’s interesting to hear Matt suggest that Traore could be deployed as a wingback at Wolves, which is something worth consideration given Nuno’s well established thirst for versatility and track record in converting players to suit his requirements.
His explosive pace up and down the wing makes him a good fit for the role on face value and even if it’s an idea only explored when chasing the game, it’s a nice weapon to have in the arsenal.
In his primary position, we’re already well stocked with Costa, Jota and Cavaleiro all viable options and it would be sad to see the latter make way if that turns out to be the trade off.
Either way though, the reported £18 million fee is a huge outlay for Wolves making Traore perhaps the greatest gamble in their history.
I just suspect though, it’s one worth taking.