Middlesbrough's Adama Traore the best dribbler in Europe, but what's next in his career?

Middlesbrough's Adama Traore the best dribbler in Europe, but what's next in his career?

Middlesbrough are set to be relegated after a disastrous attacking season has seen them win only four wins in the Premier League. This is less than the other 19 clubs and unless there is a remarkable turnaround in their form, they will return to the Championship after only one season in the top flight.

One player who may attract interest from clubs in the bottom half of the Premier League is Adama Traore. The winger has yet to score and has contributed only one assist, but he has shown himself to be an incredible dribbler and there will be several managers who will be willing to take a risk on him this summer.

The CIES Football Observatory have put together a list of the 100 best dribblers of this season across Europe and the Boro winger surprisingly comes out on top, beating the likes of Lionel Messi, Eden Hazard and Neymar.

They have formed the list by dividing the number of dribbles attempted by the percentage of successful ones. Traore has been exciting to watch this season and there are few better in the Premier League at beating opposition defenders, as this study suggests.

How good is Adama Traore?

This is an ongoing debate on social media and for all of the excitement that the winger causes with his dribbling, there is little substance to his game beyond that. This season, he has averaged 1.04 chances created, 0.98 key passes, 0.67 shots and 1.83 ball recoveries per ninety minutes.

For a creative player, especially one that can create space as well as Traore can, this isn’t good enough and it isn’t surprising that he is playing on the worst attack in the league.

Wayne Routledge is a similar player at a similar level and he is out-producing the Boro winger in nearly every area. The Swansea man has averaged 1.17 chances created, 1.13 key passes, 0.89 shots and 1.59 ball recoveries per ninety minutes.


There is no doubting that Traore is a tremendous athlete and a player with a lot of potential under the correct coach. However, his end product isn’t good enough to justify playing regularly in the Premier League.

Although playing on the worst attack in the league hasn’t helped him, he has shown little to suggest that he would do better for another team. There have been countless examples of him beating a player in the final third, before making the wrong decision or delivering a poor final ball.

He needs to improve mentally and technically, as physical attributes aren’t enough to succeed in the Premier League.

What is next for the 21-year-old?

Regardless of his struggles this season, Traore has time on his side and his dribbling ability will earn him another opportunity in the top flight before too long. It is rare for a player to be as good as the Middlesbrough player is at running with the ball. If he develops both the mental and technical parts of his game, he would very quickly become a good player.

There will be managers currently employed by Premier League clubs that will believe they are the right person to bring the best out of the young winger and a move could be on the cards this summer.

However, the best course of action for his personal development may be to drop down into the Championship with Middlesbrough, if they are relegated as expected. He would be able to play outside of the Premier League’s spotlight and build up his confidence against lesser opposition.

When watching Traore now, he clearly lacks confidence in the final third and he needs to gain that if he ever wants to fulfil his potential. He may be the best dribbler in Europe according to CIES, but he wants to become more than that.

Although the 21-year-old may not be a Premier League player now, he could be in the future. He needs to make the right decision this summer to ensure he can start to develop. If not, he will risk becoming a player that is always on the move and stunt his development that way.

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