Andy Thompson believes Wolves flier Adama Traore is like a new signing.
Traore has benefitted from extended coaching on the training ground with boss Nuno Espirito Santo and his team and has started to look a different player this season.
The 23-year-old is harnessing his stunning pace to add an end product – as we saw with his two goals to beat Manchester City.
Traore’s improvement has come despite him operating in three positions – right wing back or a four or five-man midfield, striker or right-sided forward of a front three.
Thompson made a career out of being versatile in his 451 games for the club over 11 years – playing every position apart from goalkeeper and centre half – and he believes the Spaniard is like having a new face.
“We have got a new player in Adama Traore – he’s a genuine threat,” said Thompson.
“People set up to play against him – they double up with two or three trying to stop him, but he’s that quick, he’s got the ability to get away from them.
“We have to think of how to utilise him but he’s improved a hell of a lot since last season.
“Nuno believed he could coach him and he has. Traore has got the physique and the pace and you can see a massive improvement in him.
“We’ve seen the assists and now the goals at Manchester City so there’s plenty there to work with.
“He’s got six or seven assists already this season and then you look at the composure he showed for the two goals at Manchester City and you can see he’s got a lot better.”
Thompson believes Traore has shown he is prepared to listen and learn to improve aspects of his game.
“He’s a threat no matter who he’s playing against. He’s fortunate in that Nuno and his coaches have worked with him and he manages his game a lot better now,” said the Cannock-born player, who started as a midfielder at Wolves but played most of his games at left back.
“The problem was he was getting into positions and you need to deliver your final ball but now he seems to be making the right decisions.”
Traore is believed to be the quickest player in the Premier League and Thompson admits he has never seen such a fast footballer.
“There’s no doubt he’s got the one thing that terrifies opposition defences – he’s got electric pace, he’s not just quick, he’s lightning,” said the 51-year-old former full back, who now works as a PE teacher in Swadlincote, Derbyshire.
“I have never seen anything like it. I remember when Theo Walcott came on the scene and he used to scare the life out of defenders with his pace, but Traore is quicker.
“Nuno has definitely worked with him and at 23, he’s still a young boy and he’s still learning the game.”
Wolves paid £18m to Middlesbrough for Traore in August 2018, but Thompson believes he can be worth a lot more than that for the club if he carries on his current progress.
“He’s still got a lot of years in front of him and if he can keep improving, he will be a massive asset,” he added.
“If he can improve the quality of his delivery in the final third he will be worth a fortune to the club.
“He’s got all the attributes to be a top footballer and I’m sure he’ll carry on improving.”
After returning to Premier League action this Saturday with the visit of Southampton, Wolves resume their Europa League campaign a week on Thursday with a trip to Slovakia to face Slovan Bratislava.
Wolves got back on track in Group K by winning 1-0 at Besiktas in their last European game and Thompson is convinced they can continue their progress on the continent.
“From what I have seen, we were unfortunate to lose to Braga at home and we played very well to beat Besiktas away,” he said.
“With the other game ending in a draw (Slovan Bratislava and SC Braga), that brought us back into it, so it’s in our own hands.
“We have the quality and the ability to get out of the group, and although it’s quite a young side, there are players in that squad such as Rui Patricio and Joao Moutinho who have experience of playing at a high level in Europe, plus others such as Willy Bolly of a good age and Conor Coady who’s having a good season so far.”