Adama Traoré joined his third Premier League team at the age of only 22 when, in August 2018, Wolves paid £18m to recruit him from Middlesbrough. He had spent two years at Middlesbrough after leaving Aston Villa, who invested £7m to sign him from Barcelona in 2015 but then didn’t start him once in the Premier League.
If he improved at Middlesbrough, his then-manager Aitor Karanka – aware of him from the Spanish youth system Traoré entered when joining Barca at the age of eight – routinely demanded he switch wings at half-time to always be on the same side of the pitch as him, so that he could give him instructions. The Spaniard suggested the forward lacked tactical awareness, and therefore required the instructions he gave.
Even during his first season at Wolves he remained a relative luxury, but it is during his second that he has finally appeared capable of adding the necessary thought to the remarkable athleticism for which he is known. At his finest, Traoré is among the most irresistible players in the Premier League. “The way he created, the way he unbalanced the opponents, he can do all this and other things,” said his manager Nuno Espírito Santo of the way that he continues to improve.