This week English media outlet Sky Sports have claimed that La Masia graduate Adama Traoré is on the radar of Antonio Conte’s Premier League leading Chelsea side. This is just another possible twist in the career of the winger who seemed to be on the fringes of the Barcelona first team when Tata Martino was coach back in the 13/14 season.
Born in L’Hospitalet in 1996 to Malian parents, Adama Traoré Diarra joined FC Barcelona’s world famous youth set-up when he was just eight-years-old. The winger was a great success in La Masia with the stand-out achievement being his part in Juvenil A winning the inaugural Uefa Youth League, forming a devastating partnership with Munir el Haddadi.
Unfortunately for Adama, in his first full season at Barcelona B he was part of the squad which endured a season-long crisis. In the 14/15 season, the reserve side endured a campaign in which they were relegated from Spain’s second tier.
The B team went through two managers during that torrid season, now Real Sociedad manager Eusebio Sacristan, who led the team to a third place finish the season before, was sacked after a string of awful performances, results and a seeming lack of ability to develop Barça’s best B team talents.
Eusebio was replaced by Jordi Vinyals, promoted from his position as Juvenil A manager, but his tenure at the reserves was even more disastrous, fielding very questionable line-ups and dropping top players like Sergi Samper and Adama himself.
Adama made just four appearances for the FCB first team. In the 13/14 season he took part in one Champions League group stage match against Ajax and a La Liga match against Granada. It was clear that Martino had plans for the player, and had the Argentine coach stayed at the club things could well have turned out differently for Adama, although I think it’s safe to say Barça wouldn’t have had the same success as they have had under Luis Enrique if that were the case.
Under Enrique Adama also played two first team matches, both Copa del Rey games, one being in the fourth round second leg against SD Huesca in which he scored his only first team goal for the club, a powerful run through the defence with a finish to match the run.
At the end of the 14/15 treble winning season, the club didn’t see an immediate future for Adama at the club and decided to ship him off permanently to Aston Villa for an initial fee of 10 million euros in a deal which included a buy-back clause and first refusal. Reports suggested that Adama snubbed interest from Liverpool, Stoke City and Everton in favour of a deal which would see him earn the most wages.
Adama only played a handful of matches for Villa as it was reported that he had a clause in his contract which meant that his wage would increase massively after playing a certain amount of games, and relegation destined Villa didn’t want to pay up.
After Villa were relegated to the English second tier, Adama was seeking a way out of the club and back into the Premier League. His saviour came in the form of newly promoted side Middlesbrough, a team managed by Spaniard Aitor Karanka. The team from the North East of England seemed to be a perfect fit for Adama, with Karanka’s tactics being dependent on creative forward players, the use of wingers and a target man up top.
It took Adama a few weeks to get into Karanka’s side, but now he seems to be a regular for the first team and he is showing England what he can do with his blistering pace and brute force – traits that suit the English game. Criticism of the winger come in the form of his lack of ability to bring his teammates into play, as Adama can often be accused of being greedy and having a poor end product, but at the age of 20-years-old he still has plenty of time to develop his weaknesses.
One criticism that could be aimed at the club after Adama has picked up interest from a big club is Barça’s pretty woeful selling record. The club seems to be very generous when it comes to selling players and never seem to sell players for a reasonable amount. Examples of this include Thiago Alcântara’s sale to Bayern for 25 million euros, Marc Bartra to Dortmund for eight million euros and Alejandro Grimaldo to Benfica for two million euros.
Some Barça fans have been confused by Adama’s situation and see the fact that he is on the transfer wish-list of Chelsea as a sign that the club shouldn’t have let the Masia product go. Whilst Adama has always shown outstanding ability as a player, it seems clear that, as a winger, his style doesn’t suit the system that Luis Enrique plays and that offloading the player was the best for his career.
It will be interesting to see what the future holds for Adama Traoré but it seems almost certain that it will be away from the Camp Nou. It is always fun to see how La Masia graduates fair after leaving Barcelona and after attracting the interest of Chelsea, where Antonio Conte could perhaps utilise him as a right wing-back like Victor Moses, Adama’s future is definitely one to keep track of.