It may have been overlooked during all the fanfare for the first ever Friday night Premier League match, but Aston Villa introduced their latest summer signing, 19-year-old former Barcelona B midfielder Adama Traoré, to the Villa Park crowd ahead of kickoff against Manchester United.
I reached out to Robert Lintott, manager of SBNation's fantastic Aston Villa blog 7500 to Holte, to see what he could tell us about their new signing and his potential to be a worthwhile investment for our fantasy teams. My questions are in bold, along with Robert's excellent answers below.
What can you tell us about the type of player Adama Traoré is?
He's exactly the type of player Aston Villa should be investing in: one who oozes talent, is young, and can either be a building block of this club for a while or a player who can be sold on for a tidy profit. But to answer more specifically, he's an incredibly strong dribbler who plays out on the right wing and seems to have oodles of confidence. In his time with Barcelona B he was clearly the best player on the pitch, and it led to a bit of selfishness as he tried to do everything himself.
His quickness, strength, and technical skill mean that he is a player who could give defenders nightmares. He can take on three players at a time and come out unscathed, and he can make smart, mazy runs.
He is not, at least at this point, too much of a goal threat. His ability to finish is a bit lacklustre, but when you remember that he's 19, there is plenty of time for that to mature.
Sam Tighe at Bleacher Report wrote an absolutely fantastic scouting report on Adama Traore, and it's definitely worth your time to read.
Being such a young player, is he expected to come into the team as a starter straight away, or will he be eased into first team action this season?
My gut instinct says, given the fact that we're talking about Tim Sherwood here, he starts right away. Perhaps not next weekend at Crystal Palace, but certainly by the end of the month. Despite a fantastic summer, Aston Villa have done very little to shore up the right side of the team. We signed Jordan Amavi and instantly got a great left back, and on the right we have... Leandro Bacuna and Alan Hutton. Linking up with... well, it's never all that clear. Jordan Ayew gets some time out there. Gabby Agbonlahor has, too.
So it's not pretty on the right. Traoré should fix that pretty quickly. His ability to hold formation out wide and then drive inside should be a real asset. He had fourteen assists last season, and if we can get him sending balls into the strike force (Gestede comes to mind) he can really help. And in the absence of anyone else who can do that very well right now, expect him to start soon and stay there.
If/when he does establish himself in the starting lineup, whose starting role is most likely under threat?
That's a great question. It's hard to tell, really. If Sherwood keeps insisting on using Agbonlahor as a central striker and Jordan Ayew out wide right, probably Ayew. But in an ideal world, I think he would take Agbonlahor's spot. Given the fact that Gabby has done next to nothing in our first two matches, it might be impossible for even Tim Sherwood to keep him in.
The other possibility is that Sherwood plays him a bit more deeply and he takes the place of Jordan Veretout. I think that would be a pretty big waste of Traoré, but you never know with Sherwood.
Care to make a prediction on how many goals/assists he'll contribute this season?
Hmmm. Like I said, the goal-scoring ability isn't quite there yet, but I think we could see 4 or 5. And perhaps something along the lines of 10 assists. If Villa can get/start using a target man (instead of Gabby flipping Agbonlahor) in the center, that assist number could climb pretty easily.
Many thanks to Robert for his insight into the Villa new boy. If you're an Aston Villa fan, or just like a healthy dose of self-deprecating humo(u)r, be sure to follow 7500 to Holte on Twitter.
Finally, for those of you who looking for a more visual representation of Traoré's skills, here's a great video highlighting his performances throughout the 2014-2015 season. Enjoy!