Adama Traore: Wolves' muscly star who insists he doesn't lift weights

Adama Traore is Wolves’ muscle-bound star who insists he doesn’t lift weights and could’ve had a career in NFL, the Barcelona reject was mocked at Aston Villa and Middlesbrough but has become the envy of Europe and has one super fan in Jurgen Klopp

  • Adama Traore was heavily tipped when he emerged in Barcelona’s academy
  • But he struggled after moving to England and suffered back-to-back relegations 
  • The flying, bulky winger has become unrecognisable from the one in La Masia
  • Now the Spaniard is turning heads across Europe with his impressive displays 

The sight of Adama Traore beating his man, racing to the byline and delivering a pinpoint cross for Raul Jimenez to head home has become a common sight in the Premier League.

The 25-year-old is terrorising defences on a weekly basis now and is finally living up to the reputation he carved out when he was coming through Barcelona’s academy.

But it has been a long road to redemption for the Spaniard, when it looked like his undeniable talent would be squandered as he suffered successive relegations at Aston Villa and Middlesbrough.

Adama Traore has become one of the most talked about footballers in the Premier League

The 24-year-old has been let off the leash by Nuno Espirito Santo at Molineux this season

While that potential is now being fulfilled, he is unrecognisable to the scrawny teenager that first emerged in La Masia.

His bulking, muscular frame affords him a unique skillset, and he has finally found his home at Wolves. It’s brought him a number of admirers across Europe, most notably Jurgen Klopp.

The Liverpool boss raved about the flying winger ahead of facing him earlier in the season, and the role Nuno Espirito Santo has played in nurturing his ability.

‘He finally found his manager who found a position for him’, he said in December.

‘At Middlesbrough he was exceptional, but somebody had to give him the right information.

‘[He is] A big, big talent. You would never have thought he is that young, but he is still very young, and now he has found it [the right manager]. It was always clear it would happen one day, and now it has. Good for Wolves!

Traore’s pace and crossing strength has made him a valuable asset for Wolves this season

‘He is really dangerous. In a big space [Leicester striker] Jamie Vardy is difficult to defend, but I would say Traore is even more difficult to defend because his speed is exceptional.’

Champions Liverpool are among the elite of European clubs who have been linked with a move for the speedster, which says so much about how far he has come in just the last two years.

In 2018 he was languishing in the Championship with Middlesbrough. Despite an encouraging season under Tony Pulis, it still seemed a surprise that newly-promoted Wolves took an £18million gamble on an inconsistent winger who had thus far flattered to deceive at the highest level.

A succession of managers had struggled to harness Traore’s lightning and explosive pace and strength.

Barcelona, in 2015, felt that the style of play ingrained in the club would not suit Traore, that his strengths could only come to the fore in a game that was open and stretched, instead of the slow, patient, pass-oriented style that had become the hallmark of the Nou Camp.

His natural talent was enough to see him earn a place in their academy at the age of eight, but early on there were fears they would not be able to fit him in.

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp was glowing in his praise of Traore earlier this season


Traore has come a long way from his scrawny early days in Barcelona’s academy to now

There was even a suggestion at one point that he could explore the possibility of becoming a running back in the NFL, according to the New York Times.

Aston Villa beat a number of clubs to his coveted signature, but it was not then manager Tim Sherwood who led the chase, but instead the club’s data analysts, who were convinced by his potential.

Sherwood, though, was excited about his new signing, who was 19 at the time, and even compared him to Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.

He said, back in August 2015: ‘He is a big powerful boy, very quick, dynamic, and a maverick type of player. You never know what’s going to come out next.

‘Those players are very few and far between.’ 

There was a note of caution, however, as he admitted the youngster would need time to develop. Sherwood would not last long, and Traore barely featured under Remi Garde and Eric Black.

Traore left Barcelona in 2015 and was relegated after one season at Aston Villa in 2016

The wide man was widely mocked when he was relegated for a second time at Middlesbrough

Newly-promoted Middlesbrough offered him a route back into the Premier League that summer, but it was a similar tale. Aitor Karanka almost over-coached the youngster.

There seemed to be a reluctance to embrace the gifted winger, instead a desire to mould him into a preferred system.

Boro went straight back down to the Championship, and Traore struggled to make an impact. Often he would get into a crossing position, but seldom did he find a team-mate. The final product was lacking.

It was not until Tony Pulis’ arrival took charge in December 2017 that Traore started to really develop his game.

Traore said this year: ‘Some people don’t know that before him I wasn’t playing a lot (at Boro).

‘After he came he trusted me and spoke with me a lot. He was great. I still have contact with him. 

‘He taught me how to play in this position, a wing-back and a winger – working a lot on maintaining position, defending, maintaining shape.’

Wolves’ gamble, the next summer, has paid off spectacularly. The whippet winger half-a-decade ago has been replaced by a muscular, strong wide man, who can bounce off opposition players, bully full backs and, more often than not, get his own way. 

Traore’s transformation is stunning, even though he insists he doesn’t lift weights in the gym

He insists that his considerable bulk up, is not the result of hard work on the weights in the gym, but more simply a result of his DNA.

‘It’s hard to believe, but I don’t do weights. It’s genetic. I exercise, but I gain mass very quickly’, he has said. 

However he has arrived at his present state, there is no denying that it has helped take him to the next level, and accentuate the unique skills that he possesses.

Where next? The financial impact of the coronavirus may well keep him at Wolves past this summer, and if he can help guide them into next season’s Champions League then he will be ready to demonstrate his growth on the highest stage of all. 

Despite his Barcelona upbringing, he seemingly has no issue with courting their Clasico rivals, Real Madrid.

‘Why not? If I have the opportunity to go to Madrid, I will leave,’ he has said.

‘There was a misunderstanding with Barcelona when I left the club, it was not the best manner of exiting the club but that is a story I will keep to myself.

‘Of course I would like to return to Spanish football, but I promised myself I would be a success in England.’ 

He has certainly made good on that promise, and it has been worth the wait to watch him become the explosive dynamo that is taking Wolves to a level their fans could scarcely imagine when he first surfaced on these shores just five years ago. 

His new muscular frame makes him stand out from many other stars in the Premier League




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