OPINION | Why Adama Traoré cannot afford to stand still despite Spain call-ups

Spain ended the international break in magnificent fashion with a 6-0 victory over Germany. Yet, it was a familiar tale for ​Adama Traoré​, who remained on the bench for the entirety of the game, which summarises a campaign that has been very mixed for him.

This time last year marked the beginning of an exhilarating couple of months for the Spaniard, who plies his trade at Wolverhampton Wanderers. He embarked on a consistent run of highly impressive performances capped off by stunning strikes against Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester City and a nomination for the Premier League Player of the Month Award in December 2019.

The new year marked a slowly declining trend in Adama’s performances. Despite achieving the PFA Player of the Month last January, the month would mark the first of many up until now where he has not scored a goal since his first in Wolves’ comeback against Man City last December. More concerningly, he has not registered an assist since last season.

It is important to stress that this has not been solely down to the player, ​Traoré​ had suffered for much of last season with a persistent shoulder problem which was so bad it would often dislocate in games only for it to be popped back in and for him to get on with the game.

However, for each time it happened, it appeared the maverick would lose five percent to his game. The integration of Daniel Podence and the form of young talent Pedro Neto has made starting spots this season hard to come by.

The consequences of that is Adama ​Traoré​ up until the international break had not started a league game in a forwards position, only as a right-wing-back until that was addressed with the arrival of ex-Barcelona player Nelson Semedo.

As reported by The Athletic, the lack of game time has led to the stalling of the signing of a new contract for Traoré, which was expected to have been signed by now.

On the flipside, Traoré has received full public backing from Wolves’ head coach Nuno Espírito​ Santo on numerous occasions. Moreover, it seems he has the full support of the club with the values of the contract mentioned to be in the region of £100,000 per week.

Most encouragingly he started in Wolves’ last Premier League game in a front three for the first time this season in their 1-1 draw versus Southampton. Although there were signs of rust, he also displayed his explosiveness and creativity, this was recognised by WhoScored, giving him an impressive rating of 7.78, markedly higher than all of his scores off the bench in previous games this season which had not exceeded 6.5.

Fans of Spain and Wolves will hope this can kickstart his season and maybe even allow him to reach new heights. The potential and ability to reach it has been seen by many now, one of the newer challenges he must face at senior level is to combat dealing with defensive teams doubling up on him.

It leaves food for thought whether a tactical shift by Nuno in terms of team formation or potentially redeploying Adama on the left flank, somewhere he was frequently deployed in his first season at the club and previously at Middlesbrough will pay dividends.

The delay of the Euro’s from last summer until next one may also provide ​Traoré​ with an extra obstacle. Last season his form over the winter months may have been enough to carry him into the squad for Euro 2020, however, due to the form of other players in his position, the task will be increasingly difficult.

He will be now vying against Manchester City’s wonderkid Ferran Torres, who has impressed for the Citizens, especially in Europe, and more notably scored a hat-trick for Spain against Germany recently. Another huge talent likely to be a shoo-in if he can regain his form when he returns from injury is Barcelona’s Ansu Fati. The teenager has incredible strike accuracy and an all-round game which has led to many dubbing him as his country’s next big thing.

Another player who scored against Germany and who is likely to make a strong case for selection is Mikel Oyarzabal, who is the leading scorer in La Liga with Real Sociedad, scoring six league goals so far this season. If you add into that mix Real Madrid’s Marco Asensio, who seems to be on the road to full recovery from long standing injury problems, in addition to players who can occupy that position alongside many others such as Leeds United’s Rodrigo, Dani Olmo and Gerard Moreno, the competition in the La Roja squad will be fierce.

Despite not possessing the same versatility, ​Traoré​’s assets are unique and he seems to be in Luis Enrique’s thoughts for now, although he may need to offer more in future months to remain there.

Michael Jones

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