Le50 2016: Adama Traoré – AS Monaco

ADAMA

To call Adama Traoré’s last 12 months a roller-coaster would be a generous simplification. A year ago he was getting ready to score his second goal of the season for Lille against Bordeaux, and now he has finally made his way back from a five-month absence, recovering from a fractured ankle.

For many young players, they would fall out of favour, you would forget about them, they especially wouldn’t feature in any similar lists. Adama Traoré is special, and it’s the amount he managed to achieve in between those two landmark points that makes him so intriguing.

The Malian midfielder made his name at Lille OSC, before sealing a €14 million move to AS Monaco after they finished third. He was just one of a number of young players ASM targeted, ushering in a new era at the club.

Vadim Vasilyev wasn’t just paying for the 19-year-old who featured heavily for les Dogues last term, but also for the young talent who, during the summer, excelled with his country, helping them finish in third place and earning the Golden Ball in the process, for his performances in the Under-20 World Cup in New Zealand.

If Monaco weren’t interested before, four goals and three assists for his country certainly caught their attention. As Traoré grew into his role in the Lille midfield, the 20-year-old demonstrated the ability to play off both feet. His debut goal against Evian was a lovely finish with his so-called weaker right foot, and also demonstrated his growing confidence. He has fantastic instincts with the ball at his feet.

As he became more comfortable on the ball, the Malian would either look to drive forward at pace, or use his close control to leave defenders for dead. For club and country he has shown composure and superb vision – seeing opportunities that normal players can’t.

Using both feet to pass and score, this has highlighted his excellent balance and soft touch on both sides. Once he gets into the box, he is a nightmare to contain. If you look to close down his strongest side too quickly, he’ll push the ball on to his right foot and he has no problem trying his luck from distance.

For Mali he played in the No.10 role, but for Lille success was found a little deeper, operating as a No.8 and thriving in the box-to-box role. Both roles will be available at Monaco, but first of all he only needs to think about getting back to 100%

Back in October, after playing in the 1-1 draw with Stade Rennais, Traoré fractured his ankle in a freak training ground accident. At first he was only meant to miss three months, but setbacks have meant he only managed to return to full training in March.

This season will be cast aside and the player will know he has to put in the effort to get back into Leonardo Jardim’s starting XI.

“The most important thing is to work. I will not let it go to my head,” Traoré told the press after his move. “I do not pay attention to the numbers, even if you paid me more. I will show you on the pitch what I am worth.”

At first glance, Traoré looks gangly and awkward, but he is graceful on the ball. Where he loses out most is in physical battles with stronger, more experienced midfielders. He can be a little lightweight, yet he does have the frame of someone who could play a lot more strongly – that will develop with time.

It’s now up to Traoré to show how much this huge psychological blow has forced him to grow up. He has always played in a mature fashion, but in moments of adversity, these are the sort of situations that can make or break a career.

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