Name: Bertrand Traore
Club: Vitesse Arnhem (on loan from Chelsea)
Position: Attacking midfielder
Whilst he may not have one of the most unique surnames in his native Burkina Faso, the talent he beholds is certainly far more unique. Now officially on Chelsea’s books after playing with The Blues during their pre-season tour of Asia, Traore is certainly not the unknown quantity that many of those his age are when they sign their first long-term contracts with clubs. Clearly doing the business required during pre-season, including a stunning goal and overall performance against an Indonesian All-Star XI, you can most certainly see why they were so keen to get his own personal ink-squiggle on paper upon him turning 18.
It seems that biology could be part of why Bertrand Traore is showing so much promise already at the age of 18, with his family tree suggesting that he had his pockets full of footballing talent in his genes when he was born. With his father a Burkina Faso international himself, his older brother Alain too is in The Stallions’ set up, with 30 caps and 15 goals with his country. Alain very much set the African Cup of Nations 2013 alight with his scoring record in the group stage before injury cut the rest of his tournament short, and the prospect of the two brothers harassing defenders with their sibling telepathy is sure to be an exciting prospect for Burkinabe fans.
After leading his nation to the African U-17 Championships in 2011, his slightly confusing situation with Chelsea began, with a series of trials between 2011 and present day eventually leading him to being presented as an official player at the end of October.
Now at Vitesse, having gone on loan there in January to join the ranks of youngsters that Chelsea are hoarding abroad, he hasn’t reached the levels of Ghanaian teammate Christian Atsu, but with mostly substitute appearances resulting in 3 goals in 12 appearances is not a bad return for the 18 year-old as we reach the end of the season. Whether he will return to Vitesse on loan or go elsewhere remains to be seen for next season, but making a good impression on whatever league he ends up in will be the goal for young Traore.
One of the youngest players to play at the African Cup of Nations, when he came on as a substitute against Sudan in the 2012 tournament, he has since been a consistent member of the squad, though largely coming on as an impact sub late in the game. A very left-footed player, the confidence that Traore demonstrates when he comes on the pitch is delightful. Incredibly skillful, a good range of passing and decent pace makes him a lovely player to watch, with all these done with an added flair that makes football the entertainment that we love it for. This impact sub role has proved a role that he truly excels in, with a particularly impressive performance coming during Burkina Faso’s ding-dong tie against Algeria in the 1st leg of the World Cup Qualifiers, showing an energy and pazazz that made his country look incredibly threatening. At present, this would seem a fitting role for him. Basing your national team around a player so young and the pressure that comes with this is probably not the best for the development of the player, but I think we can certainly expect to see The Stallions utilising Traore’s talents much more in the not-so-distant future.