For a while, it looked like Adama Traore has upped his game to a significant level, in terms of his end product as much as making defenders terrified. But, at the moment, there seems to be a regression from the Spanish winger, as his form continues to be in an alarming mode.
Adama Traore: The Regression
Evolution at Wolves
There was some scepticism when Wolverhampton Wanderers signed Adama Traore from Middlesbrough in the summer of 2018. Ten league goals and five assists in 2,244 EFL Championship minutes in 2017/18 might not be the worst statistic – that’s a goal contribution every 149 minutes. But it still didn’t stop the sneers as Wolves shelled out £20 million for him.
The accusation towards Traore was that he was mostly flash and little end product. He could terrify defenders and keep them on their toes, but his concrete end product was missing. And his in previous seasons in the top-flight (with Boro in 2016/17 and Aston Villa the season earlier) saw him get three assists and zero goals in 37 games. His first season at Wolves didn’t prove doubters wrong, as he only registered a goal and an assist, and none of which came in the second half of the season.
But, Traore upped his game the following season. First, the mere numbers: four league goals and nine assists might not be the most glamourous, but it was still a massive improvement. Numbers aside, though, Traore’s gameplay in itself changed. He was getting into better positions and was more composed in front of goal and was far more direct. Performances in the wins against Manchester City were proof of that.
Traore’s Slide Out of Form
Suddenly, there were rumours of bigger clubs looking the way of Adama Traore. But after his performance in the 3-2 win against Manchester City in December 2019, his end product has dwindled. He registered a goal and an assist in that game, but he hasn’t scored in the league since.
In fact, the only time Traore has managed an assist in 2020/21 is in the 3-3 draw at Brighton & Hove Albion earlier this year, which means he bagged zero goals and five assists in the whole of 2020. It’s not exactly a fall from grace, but it’s certainly a concerning dip in form.
Perhaps Adama Traore can be cut a slack when you factor in that this could be a collective dip in form. Wolves’ form this season hasn’t been the best. They haven’t won since beating Chelsea in mid-December, meaning they’re six games without a league victory. Nuno Espirito Santo’s side are 13th with 23 points – last season they had 30 points after the same number of games. Their tally of 21 goals is only better than five teams, and they’ve conceded 29, more than struggling Fulham.
Since the City game of December 2019, they’ve won 14 out of 39 league matches. The loss of players hasn’t helped. Matt Doherty left for Tottenham Hotspur in the summer, while Diogo Jota went to Liverpool. There’s the case as to whether Wolves should have invested in the defence, and the loss of Raul Jimenez is a big miss – in the ten games since he’s been injured, they’ve scored ten goals.
Wolves’ set-ups also highlight their lack of form and stability. So far, they’ve used a 4-3-3, a 3-4-2-1, a 3-4-3, and a 5-4-1. There also has been a 4-2-3-1, a 3-5-2 and, a 5-3-2. A lack of form has yielded a lack of consistent structure, and Wolves look like a shadow of themselves. Perhaps that’s why Adama Traore is slacking as well.