La Masia – the quintessential footballing institution when it comes to fostering young minds, has a seemingly endless and multifarious supply line.
From the conventional ways of Pep Guardiola and Carles Puyol to the neoteric craftsmanship of Lionel Messi and Pedro Rodriguez, the ‘Farm House’ has been able to provide a myriad of precocious talents. The latest player who is knocking on the doors of FC Barcelona’s first team is 18-year-old Adama Traore.
Full Name: Adama Traore Diarra
D.O.B: 25th January 1996
Born in L’Hospitalet de Llobregat, a municipality in the southwest of Barcelona, Catalonia, Traore is of Malian descent. The pacey winger joined La Masia at the tender age of eight. But this was after he had a brief stint at local side Centre d’Esports l’Hospitalet.
His Malian parents are believed to have immigrated to the city in the 1980’s. Following in the footsteps of club legend Lionel Messi, Traore passed through three different age groups in a single season in 2011. A colossal achievement given the quality of players plying their trade in the set up.
La Masia has an astonishing 16 teams divided on the grounds of age. The lowest being ‘Prebenjamin’ and the highest being Barcelona B, who currently play in the Segunda Division in the Spanish league.
Starting the 2010-11 season with Quique Alvarez’s Cadet A side, Traore was soon called up by Jordi Vinyals’s Juvenil A side, the team that won the División de Honor Juvenil de Futbol that year, the most prestigious youth footballing competition for players under the age of 18.
After a series of impressive performances for the Cadet and Juvenil teams, Traore was soon promoted to Barcelona B managed by Eusebio Sacristán Mena and made his debut for the team on 6 October, in a 0–1 away defeat against Sociedad Deportiva Ponferradina in the Segunda division.
Traore finished the 2013-14 season with five goals and five assists in 29 games for Barcelona B. Quite a healthy stat for a player who predominantly plays on the wings. His rapid rise is down to his dexterity and the relative ease in which he adapts to teams consisting of players much older than him.
Traore’s much awaited first team debut came in a La Liga game against Granada CF on 23 November 2013. Then Barca manager Gerardo Martino brought a 17-year-old Traore on for Neymar in the Catalans’ 4-0 home win.
Three days later, he made his debut in the UEFA Champions League coming on for Cesc Fabregas in the 82nd minute in a 2-1 loss against AFC Ajax at Amsterdam in a group stage tie. Traore’s impressive performances for the B team though, has caught the eyes of scouts and youth football enthusiasts all over the world.
Strengths and Weaknesses
Adama’s weapon of choice has always been his pace. The 18-year-old possesses an extraordinary ability of beating fullbacks at ease. Known to withstand even the harshest of tackles, the youngster’s physique and body strength is remarkable for someone his age. Unlike his teammates, he has a very direct approach to the game.
You wont find him doing the fancy stepovers, pulling off an exquisite Rabona or the usual air of showboating that modern wingers carry with themselves. The moment he receives the ball, his primary objective is to beat the approaching fullback and drill in a good cross. This has created a great partnership of him and his teammate, Cameroonian striker Jean Marie Dongou, who has been benefitting from Traore’s directness.
Primarily a left footed player, Traore’s ability to use his right foot in a situation is brilliant. For instance, a left footed winger playing on the right flank is always expected to cut inside and take a shot or cross in. But when this is not possible, he quite comfortably uses his weaker right foot to go past players and bombard the d-box with crosses.
As for his weakness, he is ridiculously one dimensional. In order to put in a cross into the box, Traore is often left searching for space down the byline. This often leads him to cross aimlessly and hence waste many opportunities.
It’s one thing to beat Segunda division full backs and a whole other ball game doing the same to a Primera division defender. Another weak aspect to his game is his defensive workrate. Although he has improved in that department in recent weeks, he still has to make himself available for his defensive duties.
There’s a lot of room for improvement for the young attacker but as things stand, he is destined for a bright future with the Blaugrana.
Having born and brought up in Spain, Adama has represented La Roja in various youth levels. But the teenage sensation has opted to represent his parents homeland Mali at senior level.