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Chelsea are reportedly planning to make a £30 million move for the signature of Middlesborough winger Adama Traore, who could leave the Riverside Stadium whether or not his side gain promotion to the Premier League.
Barcelona academy graduate Traore failed to impress much during a sole season with Aston Villa, his first English employers, but the Mirror‘s Neil Moxley wrote that Chelsea are looking to offer him a return to the top flight.
The speedster was only 19 when he departed Catalonia for Villa Park in August 2015, struggling in Premier League stints with Villa and Boro before finding his groove in the Championship this season.
There, he’s stood out and shown signs he’s acclimated more to the demands of English football, and football reporter Phil Spencer highlighted what’s undoubtedly one of the biggest assets in his arsenal:
Phil Spencer @PhilSpenc23
Adama Traore is so fast that he can be knocked down by two players, turn, appeal to the referee, jump to his feet and pick the ball up again before anyone can react. Pretty impressive! #Boro #UTB
Moxley’s report quoted a source near the prospective deal saying: “Adama knows there is major interest – and Chelsea have always been at the head of the queue.”
Chelsea have star wide men in the likes of Eden Hazard, 27, Willian, 29 and Pedro, 30, but an injection of youth and potential on the flanks may not go astray among those more experienced talents.
Traore prides himself on being a trickster in his work and has in particular improved in utilising his considerable frame to its utmost this term. Commentator Jon Driscoll noted he could fit in among the Chelsea attack, having picked up a knack for drawing fouls:
Jon Driscoll @DriscollFC
I’ve checked the stats & that’s now the 879th player to be booked for fouling Adama Traore this season.
The Blues have been fouled 10.7 times per average in the Premier League this season, per WhoScored.com, the fifth-highest tally of any team in the top flight and only one foul fewer than leaders West Ham United.
Traore left Barcelona almost three years ago with big things tipped for the Spain under-21 international, who has contributed five goals and 10 assists in 33 Championship outings this term.
His rating of 7.74 is the highest given to any player in WhoScored.com‘s Championship rankings this season, having won 13 man-of-the-match awards, at least four more than any other player.
His performances this campaign suggest the Premier League is no longer outside this capabilities, and a PFA Player of the Month award for March was one of the latest indicators:
Middlesbrough FC @Boro
.@BBCSport’s @MarkClemmit called in on #Boro training yesterday, and after the session, Adama Traore was presented with his @PFA Player of the Month award 🔴⚪️ Catch the feature on #FootballFocus tomorrow #UTB https://t.co/oaeb9WN7Vt
Chelsea have come to rely heavily on the strength of their wingers under Antonio Conte, and a young up-and-coming asset out wide may be the best choice of cover for his already present stars.
Middlesborough are guaranteed to finish among the Championship play-off places, and it won’t be until the club finds out their promotion fate that we discover Traore’s best chances of a return to the Premier League.