If we had a pound for every time we’d heard a pundit or commentator claim Adama Traore needs to work on his end product, we’d have enough money to purchase a lifetime’s supply of baby oil.
And the best part about it all, you ask? It’s absolute nonsense.
The truth of the matter is, Traore is an exceptionally gifted footballer with all the tools needed to become one of the best players in the Premier League – all he needs is a manager to help him realise his potential.
90min recently revealed that Leeds are hoping to lure the Spain international away from Molineux this summer, and a brief check of Traore’s career to date will tell you Marcelo Bielsa could be just the man to help the winger showcase his talents on a regular basis.
After injuries and competition for places limited Traore’s game time at both Aston Villa and Barcelona, a move to Middlesbrough in 2016 would finally see the jet-heeled winger express himself on the pitch.
Many managers had tried and failed to get the bets out of him, but weirdly the man who finally cracked the code was so-called footballing dinosaur Tony Pulis.
While we’d love to laud the veteran tactician for creating some sort of innovative training technique to aid Traore’s development, the truth is all he did was spend one-on-one time with him and assure him he’d be the first name on the team sheet in his preferred position every week.
You see, given the celebrity status footballers inherit as soon as they graduate from a team’s academy, we tend to occasionally forget that they’re just humans who all need treating differently, and Traore isn’t the sort of player you can snub and expect him to come out swinging.
When given the good old ‘arm around the shoulder’ treatment and made to feel like a key member of the side, Traore suddenly went from a player who couldn’t get a game over players like Rudy Gestede to comfortably the best player in the Championship.
Just half a season of regular football in the second tier was all it took for rumours of moves to Liverpool and Chelsea to start picking up pace, though it was Wolves who would eventually trigger his £18m release clause.
Clearly unaware of how to get the best out of the winger, Nuno Espirito Santo would afford him just eight starts in his maiden campaign with Wolves – which obviously yielded just one league goal and one assist.
Given time to assess the kind of character he was dealing with, Nuno made Traore a key part of his side for the 2019/20 season – imagine our shock when he bagged four league goals and nine assists including brilliant strikes against Manchester City and Tottenham.
You’d think by this point Nuno would have learned his lesson – apparently not. The Portuguese tactician spent the following season shoehorning Traore into unfamiliar roles at wing-back and as a centre-forward, and what a surprise he didn’t muster a single goal or assist until April.
Talent has never been an issue with Traore, all he needs is a manager who trusts him and is willing to prove he’ll be central to his team’s plans rather than being left on the bench or shoved into random positions – and this is where Bielsa comes in.
The Leeds boss is renowned for his ability to get the best out of his squad, with players like Luke Ayling, Liam Cooper and Stuart Dallas transformed from lower league also-rans to top performers in the Premier League.
Perhaps the biggest individual success story of Bielsa’s time at Leeds has been Jack Harrison. The former Manchester City man’s career looked very similar to Traore’s prior to his move to Leeds, having failed to make the cut at a top club before moving to Middlesbrough.
Since then he’s become one of the most exciting wingers in the league, clearly relishing the responsibility and the trust put in him by Bielsa having now been spared the tag of ‘promising youngster who never fulfilled his true potential’.
If Leeds prove successful in their pursuit of Traore, the Spain international will be joining a side whose high-tempo style of play is perfectly suited to his game and he’ll be working under a manager who’ll be able to recognise the kind of leadership needed to help him thrive.
We’re not overexaggerating when we say Traore genuinely has the talent to become one of the best players in the Premier League, and Marcelo Bielsa could just be the man to help him realise that.