Chelsea receive a lot of criticism for the policy of buying up foreign talent at young ages in the knowledge that the the vast majority will never make the grade at Stamford Bridge. The signing of a Burkina Faso born teenager in January 2014 may have skipped the attention of even the most ardent of Chelsea fans, such is the regularity of such purchases.
However unlike many of Chelsea’s young arrivals who are often immediately sent out on loan barely to be seen again, Bertrand Traore looks like he might have what it takes to make the grade.
His story has an element of controversy to it given Chelsea’s pursuit of the player started long before his 18th birthday and suggestions he turned out for the club’s youth team at 16 could yet land Chelsea in hot water with the world football authorities who have dished out transfer bans on the big three Spanish clubs in recent times for similar offences.
Officially he signed on January 1st 2014 and predictably was loaned out to the Eredivisie the following day, most likely before he’d even met most of his Chelsea teammates. Vitesse Arnhem, which has become something of a feeder club for the Londoners, was his destination.
The Dutch club currently has five players on loan from Chelsea hoping to follow in the footsteps of Traore who impressed enough to warrant a place in the Chelsea first-team squad for the 2015-16 season.
Deceptively strong with a good eye for goal
Bertrand Traore made 51 appearances for Vitesse scoring 20 times in all competitions, a highly impressive strike-rate for someone who is considered more of an attack-minded winger than out and out striker.
His goal tally certainly demonstrates his eye for a goal either from short or long-range but they are no means his only attributes.
He is deceptively strong for someone who is young and of a fairly slight frame and has the pace and anticipation to capitalise on a moment’s hesitation at the back. His ability to use either foot is also highly impressive and despite being a right-sided player the majority of his goals in Holland came with his left foot.
He still needs to work on his delivery if he is to make it as a real top draw winger but for now at least he already looks a more than useful member of the Chelsea squad and a versatile figure given his ability to play on the flank or through the middle.
Patience being rewarded
He had to wait to get his chance at Chelsea this season but he has wasted no time in taking his opportunity to shine when Guus Hiddink has thrown him into the limelight in recent weeks. Traore has played a grand total of 147 minutes for the Chelsea first team but has already netted three goals, all of which were the final goal in 5-1 wins over MK Dons, Newcastle and Manchester City.
By way of comparison, Loic Remy and Radamel Falcao have 31 appearances between them this season for a return of just 3 goals.
Bertrand Traore’s first Chelsea start is surely just around the corner and although still a raw talent and just 20 years old, the Burkina Faso international has the potential to develop into a big player for the club.
Written by Mark Sochon
Follow Mark on Twitter @tikitakagol
Check out his brilliant blog on all things La Liga, Tiki-Taka-Gol!
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