We haven't been paying much attention to Bertrand Traoré this season so far, though I suspect a large part of that reason is that he simply hasn't been very good for Ajax Amsterdam despite getting to reunite with his former manager at Vitesse, Peter Bosz. In fact, Bosz himself has come under a bit of criticism, both for his team selections and for creating unrest in the camp.
It's all a rather odd situation, especially since Ajax have not lost a game since August, winning eleven of their last thirteen. But when they did lose at the start of the season, they fell out of the Champions League qualifier, and fell behind in the usually top-heavy Eredivisie title race. They are currently second, three points behind Feyenoord.
And then there are things like Bosz criticizing his own players, such as going after Traoré himself following last weekend's 1-0 win over Excelsior, which apparently didn't meet some lofty expectations.
"His attitude is not wrong, but his form is not good. I know he can do much better than he has shown at Ajax in his early days. But since the last international period, he has not been at the same level as before. It is important that he gets back to form as soon as possible."
-Peter Bosz; source: VI via Google Translate
Traoré has been under fire from others as well, such as club legends Ronald de Boar and Sjaak Swart, both of whom agree that the 21-year-old's performances have not been good enough, and certainly not good enough to warrant the high loan fee that Ajax paid for him.
Ronald de Boer on Traore:' I liked him at Vitesse, but he hasn't shown that level at Ajax so far. The high loan fee could play a role.'— Lars (@VitesseCFC) October 30, 2016
Unsurprisingly, Traoré's recent words don't paint an entirely happy picture either.
Bertrand Traore:' I didn't see it coming. I played a lot in pre-season and Guus Hiddink gave me playing time last season'.— Lars (@VitesseCFC) November 2, 2016
Traoré was indeed heavily involved in pre-season, often playing as the second-striker in the now discarded 4-2-4 setup. He looked on track to make the team, so his loan out was a surprise for us, and apparently for him, too. In fairness to him, he's looked to make the most of his opportunity at Ajax.
"I want to win all there is to win with Ajax. I want to become champions and win the cup - and go very far in the Europa League. And be important for the team with many goals and assists."
-Bertrand Traoré; source: EFL Voetbal via Inside Futbol
But despite those words, the whole situation feels a bit off. Traoré has lost his place as the starting center forward and he's been shoved back out to the wing, where his direct dribbling skills are useful, but apparently also a bit overdone with Bosz publicly ticking him off for "showboating". Traoré does have three goals and one assist, but like I said, the whole situation feels off. And in a way, that's casting a bit of a shadow on his previously promising Chelsea future as well.
On the plus side, Traoré is getting plenty of minutes, so at least in that sense, the loan has been a success. Hopefully the atmosphere around the club improves as well.