This is part 3 of a three part series.
The case for Chelsea superkid Bertrand Traore
The least experienced of the prominent prospects at Manchester United, Arsenal and Chelsea, 18-year-old Burkinabe stand-out Bertrand Traore is heralded as one of the most promising prospects out of all of Africa - that's some hype, but will he live up to it?
The teenager first became known to Jose Mourinho after the Portuguese talent-spotted was impressed having watched a DVD of the player.
Invited to a trial, Traore excelled during the club's pre-season last summer, signed personal terms on a permanent senior contract in October and officially became part of the Stamford Bridge side's roster when the mid-season transfer market opened for trading at the start of this calendar year, however, he was immediately sent out on loan, to Vitesse Arnham.
There is little competitive footage of Traore available, yet his performances in friendly matches whilst wearing Blue last summer at the pre-season tour of Asia, coupled with his displays for Vitesse thus far during the non-competitive bouts in the Bundesliga's winter-break, show precisely why Chelsea were keen to secure his long-term future.
Traore is physically strong for his age and, like Adnan Januzaj and Serge Gnabry, is technically-adept. He has a good passing range, can shield the ball well and as shown by his goal returned against a Malaysia XI in a 4-1 win in July, 2013 and another recorded against BNI Indonesia All-Stars in an 8-1 rout four days later, he is also composed in front of goal and has a strong finish.
Last year, Champions League and Europa League winning defender Gary Cahill marveled at the player's confidence and skill-set as Traore fitted in with ease amongst Chelsea's senior players. He said, as quoted by The Independent: 'He’s certainly not looked out of place among some top international players. He’s composed on the ball and has great confidence for such a young lad.'
Traore's biggest hurdle to stardom so far is his endurance, stamina and fitness - something his national boss at Burkina Faso, Paulo Duarte, has noted, however, this may improve for two significant reasons, a: he only recently turned 18 and is yet to fully grow into a man and an athlete and b: up until he was a teenager he was educated by Bobo Dioulasso, in Burkina Faso, before joining the Auxerre youth set-up.
It stands to logic that the longer he plays for a European club, his athleticism will naturally improve. Chelsea's Cobham facilities, for instance, are world class - as are their coaching and the methods adopted on the training ground.
Considering his inexperience compared to Januzaj and Gnabry, his loan status and the fact that Manchester United and Arsenal afford youth players more chances in the senior selection to shine than Chelsea do (an unsettled Kevin de Bruyne, Romelu Lukaku's situation and Marko Marin's recent comments all spring to mind), it is fair to place Traore a league below both Adnan and Serge.
If Traore makes as big an impact for Vitesse as he has done in friendly fixtures, that may well change…
Current rating: 6/10
Potential rating: 8/10 but will it be realised at Chelsea?
image: © Jason Bagley