One of the biggest “almost” transfer stories that emerged from Tottenham Hotspur’s camp during this past summer’s transfer window was Nuno Espirito Santo’s public pursuit of Wolverhampton Wanderers attacker Adama Traore. Wolves wanted to keep ahold of him and were asking a fee as large as £40m for Traore, which turned out to be too rich for Fabio Paratici’s blood. The deal never materialized before the close of the window.
Now that the January window is open, you’d think Antonio Conte would be looking at different options as he looks to bolster the right wing back position, but Traore’s name has been popping up again as a legitimate option this month. According to John Percy in the Telegraph (£), Spurs are taking another look at Traore and could end up getting him for significantly cheaper than the price quoted in the summer.
Wolves’ underperformance in the league this season — they’re currently ninth — has manager Bruno Lage pondering whether to reinforce this month with as many as three players, something that could require raising funds via selling Traore. The Telegraph postulates that they would consider bids of “more than £20m” for Traore in January, a significant drop in price from his valuation this summer.
There’s been a lot of background chatter that Antonio Conte is an admirer of Traore and sees him as a very good option as a right wing back and an upgrade on Matt Doherty. Traore is a dribble monster, an elite-level athlete and one of the best in the league at taking on opponents. The problem is... well, everything else. He’s been criticized for his end product — he doesn’t score many goals and seemingly is more likely to blaze a ball over the bar or lose it out of bounds as he is score or find a teammate with a good pass.
On the other hand, you can see exactly why Conte might find him to be an exciting option on that right side. One thing Traore can do is stretch defenses. Signing Traore would mean that Spurs would have 1a/1b options on both the right and left flank — Traore is a very different kind of wing back to Emerson Royal, like Ryan Sessegnon is to Sergio Reguilon, which would allow Conte to be able to both rotate and choose his wingbacks based on Tottenham’s opponent and tactics.
£20m is a lot more palatable price than £40m, and it seems as though Traore’s value to Wolves might have shifted more towards the “saleable asset” end of the spectrum, as opposed to “invaluable player.” Traore is fun as hell to watch; I said this summer that I was not really opposed to the idea of bringing him in, but not at upwards of £40m. I would certainly be more amenable to bringing him in under a tactical system like Conte’s, and absolutely for a lower price.
That obviously doesn’t mean that this is going to happen — while right wing back is a priority in the window, West Ham also apparently are interested in Traore and Spurs are also looking at options such as Brighton’s Tariq Lamptey this month, among others. However, this is also a deal that could be done early in the window — if Spurs are planning to sell before they buy, they’ll want something done for Traore quickly so they can make some purchases of their own. Watch this space.