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In praise of Bertrand Traoré, Chelsea star in the making

Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

In recent times, acquiring the service of a prospect preordained for success by adulatory reviews has lost its appeal. There was a time in which these signatures could prompt sincere excitement; this was a time before Chelsea's relentless loan system began to function. The faint hope that one of its members could prosper into a prominent first-team player — a vision best reflected by Thibaut Courtois' development — is far outweighed by the appearance of a purely money-making operation.  Could Bertrand Traoré beat the odds?

Traoré's Chelsea career began in unusual circumstances, spending several years as a repeat trialist with the youth teams and on pre-season tours before Chelsea were allowed to officially sign him.  It was during pre-season of 2013 that he truly announced his presence, with a spectacular individual effort during our Tour of Asia.  The belief and the audacity on display made it apparent that he had the makings of a proficient player.

This initial judgement was ratified during his second loan spell at Vitesse Arnhem, in which he began to flourish. Any potential questions raised of his capabilities were resoundingly answered during his spell in Holland. Chelsea's young starlet, proved his aptitude to score goals whilst exhibiting his versatility in attacking positions.  He concluded his first full season with the imposing record of 17 goals in 36 appearances. It is especially rare to see a nineteen-year-old exclusively form the focal point of a team, yet this is exactly what Traore achieved at Vitesse, exuding considerable competence in the process.

Seemingly, the experience he attained in Holland established the foundations of his Chelsea career. At the beginning of the 15/16 season, Traore was presented with the number 14 shirt. Yet despite, the enthusiasm his loan spells ensued his opportunities to blossom were finite... until the arrival of Guus Hiddink.

Since the cultivated Dutchman was appointed as interim manager, Traore has been an unused substitute in eight games, featuring as a substitute in four. While his involvement does appear to be limited, it still represents increased activity in comparison to Mourinho's reign — he only made three substitute appearances for Mourinho. More importantly, Traoré has certainly seized his opportunity to impress in an emphatic manner.

In his last three games, Traoré has been introduced from the bench, and each time has scored Chelsea's fifth goal. In fact, in every game in which he has featured for longer than 15 minutes, he has scored. These statistics are most certainly auspicious and allow us to ponder, have we found another anomaly to the notorious loan system? Although two of his goals have been scored against lower opposition (MK Dons and a youthful Manchester City) his endeavor to grasp every opportunity has been unquestionable.

Traore's recent form has prompted many to question the rationale behind the loan signings of Radamel Falcao and Alexandre Pato, whilst Traoré was perhaps unrighteously languishing behind the pecking order.  Injuries are undeniably responsible for Falcao's horrid demise, and he has struggled to return to his former distinction. Despite securing his signing in January, Pato's lack of fitness has delayed his involvement — and on the basis of current form he might be situated behind Traoré. One cannot help but envisage how many goals would Traoré have scored if he was presented with opportunities earlier in the season...

During his brief outings in a Chelsea shirt, the twenty-year-old has displayed unrivaled willingness to succeed. Whether his performance is adorned with a goal or not, Traoré possesses the ability to impact a game with his exuberance. His finishing his clinical, his movement is decisive and his presence is menacing, and his abilities will only improve with greater experience.

If Traoré maintains his commendable record, then surely his fine performances will warrant further opportunities — hopefully in the form of starts rather than part-time cameos. Having secured progression in the FA Cup, Hiddink's focus will be placed entirely on the opportunity to win silverware. Apart from pride, the Barclays Premier League doesn't represent much to Chelsea, certainly in comparison to the significance of the FA Cup and Champions League, thus providing Traoré with an ideal premise to thrive if he is entrusted by Hiddink.

Indeed, his Chelsea career has scarcely begun yet Traoré's potential is vast. If he maintains the same degree of performance whilst exuding his unrivaled desire, he could develop into an exceedingly fine player.

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