masia | 2015-08-03
Adama Traoré - The best U19 winger in the world
Introducing one of the most exciting prospects in La Masia
When Adama Traoré debuted against Granada in November 2013, he became the latest Masia-raised winger to open the eyes of the first team coaching staff and fans, following in the footsteps of Pedro, Cuenca, Tello and Deulofeu.
The Catalonian of Malian birth plays for Barça B, but he has played four matches so far (95 minutes) for Barça’s first team.
Full name: Adama Traoré Diarra
Shirt name: ADAMA
Birth date: 01/25/1996
Height: 1.78 m
Weight: 76 kg
If there’s an aspect where Adama shines, it is this one. He’s strong and powerful. He was never the tallest of his class, but was always one of the strongest and, in recent years, has benefited from a spectacular physical change that saw him shoot up to 180 centimeters (5’9”) tall. For his age, he’s well developed physically, with high stamina and agility. But Traoré’s main quality is, without a doubt, his speed. There’s a reason why he was nicknamed “The Arrow From L’Hospitalet,” and why many claim he’s the fastest player that has gone through F.C. Barcelona’s development ranks.
His qualities belong to a sprinter: He has a shocking pace-change, powerful acceleration and a lower body that gives him great power in short sprints as in long runs. He uses these qualities to dribble opponents.
But it would be unfair just to talk about his speed. Not only is he fast, but he knows how to run, as well. Andrés Carrasco, Adama’s trainer in Infantil, nailed it when he used the word “quadruped” to describe him, “Because he’s able to use the legs and arms to keep running.” Add great power to the speed and Traoré is incredibly hard to bring down. He’s also agile, qualities that he takes advantage of when it’s time to dribble and beat his marker.
Traoré is right-footed, but knows how to turn his body and use the left leg when pushed to find a solution, be it cutting inside or facing the goal. A couple of his 8 Segunda Division goals have been scored with his left foot, after cutting inside from the right wing.
Adama is a discreet boy, humble, hardworking and very disciplined. He doesn’t have any conflicts on the pitch, and has always known how to adapt to circumstances and requests from his coaches. He’s one of those academy players in the lower categories who is playing at a level beyond his age, jumping from from team to team much faster than is expected.
A good example is in 2012, when he started the season in Cadete A, later consolidated himself at Juvenil B and went on to dominate some matches with Juvenil A, which proves both his incredible talent, as well as a willingness to do what coaches ask of him.
In the youth division, he had a tendency to be irregular, and the ease with which he lost himself in certain matches was worrying. But taking a look at his last seasons with Juvenil A and Barça B makes it evident that this issue was left behind, and there is no longer doubt about his concentration.
Regarding Traoré’s decision making, today he has the confidence to take the risk no matter who he has to face, and asks for the ball over and over again. He was the go-to player for Barça B when the team needed to make something happen when attacking, not always an easy task for him since he was constantly marked by at least 2-3 players. He has to learn to be more selective and choose the best option. He sometimes lacks patience and runs out of field before finishing the play. But we can’t forget that he’s only 19, and still has a lot to learn.
Technically he also gifted, but that isn’t his main feature. Traoré’s specialty is one-on-one, but he often eludes rival defenders with power more than technical excellence. He can dribble while running as though he’s standing still, and he sometimes tends to cut to the inside, though it’s more common to see him try to run up the wing. He has good ball control, moving with it as though it’s glued to his feet. Those qualities, along with an instinctive knowledge when to change his pace, doesn’t give his marker a chance to even blink.
Traoré’s statistics are a perfect example: with 243 successful dribbles he outdid the two top dribblers in the European Top 5 leagues, Lionel Messi (174) and Eden Hazard (180). Despite the fact that Segunda Division isn’t one of the prime leagues out there, that is still a very impressive stat.
As we said in the beginning, it’s unfair to just say that Traoré knows how to run, because he also performs well in close space. He's heavily marked in most of his matches, and is a specialist in making the final pass, with 14 assists last season, more than any other player in Liga Adelante. He particularly shines in situations where he dribbles the fullback and then makes the cross.
He’s quick to take shots with power, but finishing chances continues to be one of his flaws, but even so it’s nothing to worry about because he’s much more of an assist man than a scorer. It’s not like the Barcelona first team needs scoring attackers, either.
Traoré is a winger at its finest. He started as a right back, but even then he ran across the field end-to-end, leaving rivals behind. By the age of 10, his coaches already wanted him to play in advanced offensive positions.
When he enters the box, every defense breaks down no matter how organized it is. He provides constant depth for his team and takes advantage of the whole pitch before crossing. When the opponent tries to smother the team with closed defenses, Traoré is the player who all of his teammates look for, because of his ability to create space.
Even as a winger, within the tactical limitation of the wings, he knows how to move between the lines and run in behind defenders. Defensively he isn’t the most self-sacrificing, but he is disciplined and competently executes pressing and tracking back with his teammates. When he does track back it is with full power, showing no mercy toward the opponent. He gives his all every time.
Being just 19 years old, it’s really hard to predict where Traoré’s ceiling is. But as was shown last season, first-team coach Luis Enrique showed more faith in the other Barça B attackers, Sandro Ramírez and Munir El-Haddadi, given that his attack consists of more central attackers, which doesn’t give the best chances to a traditional winger like Adama.
As it seems now, a loan deal is very probable for Traoré, who is too good for the third-best Spanish league, but a permanent deal with a buy-back clause shouldn’t be excluded either as a possibility, given Barça’s new policy regarding younger players who are closing in on the first team. Recently there has been talk of Adama going to teams such as Liverpool or Bayern Munich, but we’ll see what happens.
Traoré has the talent to become one of the best wingers in the world but ultimately, it’s up to the coaches to decide if he’s going to become that at Barcelona.
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Article translated from Spanish to English, edited by Navid Molaaghaei and originally published at the Perarnau Magazine by Sita Aguilera. Martí Perarnau is one of Grup 14's partners.
WRITTEN BY: Perarnau Magazine
WRITTEN BY: Sita Aguilera
Sita Aguilera collaborates with the Perarnau Magazine and Rondo Blaugrana, she's among one of the best writers when it comes to Barcelona's fabled La Masia.