Could Antonio Conte finally unlock Adama Traore’s final form?

Adama Traore (£2.4m) is arguably the most unique footballer in the Premier League.

At his best, he’s a superhero among mortals, and he has the look to match: bulging muscles, lightning-dyed hair, baby oil sheen.

But it’s not his Marvel-friendly appearance that sets the 26-year-old apart from his peers, it’s the way he plays.

Raw pace and a direct style make him an anomaly in the discipline of dribbling.

At various times in recent years, graphs have emerged that highlight the fact Traore is in a league of his own in several metrics (take-ons per 90 minutes, for example), even putting to shame the likes of Lionel Messi, Neymar and Eden Hazard.

The well-known caveat is that whereas those three players have generally supplied incredible output on top of their successful dribbling, the Wolves winger has frustrated fans with his decision-making and sloppy execution in the final third.

Unmissable and occasionally unwatchable


Unmissable and occasionally unwatchable

Unfortunately, the caricatured image of Traore dribbling past three players and then lashing the ball into the stands is too rooted in reality for his liking.

The weekend before last, he scored his first goal of the season, a 91st-minute strike against Southampton.

One goal and no assists in 1,217 minutes of action tells the story of his 2021/22.

In 2019/20, under Nuno Espirto Santo’s watch at Molineux, he provided nine assists on top of four goals in the league, adding final product to his breakneck style thanks to a fruitful partnership with Raul Jimenez (£3.1m).

However, this term more than ever, his bluntness in the areas of the pitch it really matters has undermined his positive influence.

Now the relevant question: could Antonio Conte unlock Traore’s final form?

The Spain international has been linked with a move to Spurs where the decorated tactician hopes to convert him into a rampaging wing-back.

Marcos Alonso (£4.1m) and Victor Moses famoulsy fulfilled the wide roles in Conte’s 3-4-3 system in a Chelsea side that dominated the 2016/17 season.

The former is a specialist in the position but the latter was something of a personal project for Conte, a winger transformed into something more disciplined and streamlined without sacrificing the best attributes.

Once upon a time…


Once upon a time…

If Daniel Levy were to sanction the transfer this month then the aim will be to subject Traore to the Moses treatment in hope finally tapping into the undoubtedly deep reserves of potential inside Traore.

Dauntingly, there’s a sense that if Conte, one of the world’s very best managers, can’t get a tune out of the muscular asset then nobody will.

There aren’t many players who could feasibly metamorphose from a bit-part rotation option to one of the league’s very best players in the space of two weeks but Traore is one of them.

For years coaches have tried to harness his superhuman dribbling and strip away the wastefulness but none have succeeded in enacting a permanent change, only fleeting spells of promise.

If Conte can crack the code then every match at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium will be appointment viewing.

Traore’s potential is massive


Traore’s potential is massive

From a Dream Team perspective, Traore has been an appeal option in recent seasons as his otherworldly dribbling ability has allowed him to collect Star Man awards – he’s got four this season despite his shaky form!

He’s categorised a midfielder which means he wouldn’t benefit from any clean sheets if he did occupy a wing-back role under Conte – that may be one for next season.

Whatever the case, it’s unlikely Traore would transform into a world-beater overnight and so gaffers would be wise to wait and see whether a change in environment facilitates an upgrade.

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