Bertrand Traore, Midfielder
Height: 5’ 11”
Weight: 159 lbs
Age: 17 (9/6/1995)
Place of birth: Bobo-Dioulasso, Burkina Faso
National team: Burkina Faso
Preferred foot: Left
In January of 2011, a 15-year-old from the western African nation of Burkina Faso told the BBC’s Matthew Kenyon, “I want to play in the first team for Chelsea.” You know who else has had that thought? Pretty much any kid who has ever kicked a soccer ball (in the Abramovich era, anyway). The difference between most of us and that young man, though, is that Bertrand Traore might have the skill to get there.
Fast-forward to today, and the now 17-year-old Traore is living his dream. During Chelsea’s three-game preseason tour of Southeast Asia, the attacking midfielder scored twice in three appearances, appearing as a substitute in the first two games and starting the third. His excellent work against the Malaysia XI on July 21 was rewarded early in the match with a nifty finish off of a forward move he himself began, and he later assisted on Romelu Lukaku’s goal. Traore’s goal four days later against the Indonesia All-Stars was a particularly stunning effort, as he curled a beautiful left-footed shot into the upper 90 from about 19 yards out.
Traore has demonstrated outstanding technical ability on the ball, both distributing to teammates in the channels (as he showed with his feed to Lukaku) and fearlessly taking on opposing midfielders and defenders. He is most at home playing in the No. 10 role, a forward-thinking central mid whose primary focus is pushing the attack and creating opportunities for both himself and his teammates. His goal against Indonesia proved that he can finish from distance, a skill he has displayed since his U-17 World Cup days.