Manchester United have always tried to improve their youth ranks signing players from all over the world. And they announced the signature of one of the most coveted young players in France only a few days ago. We are talking about Aliou Traore.
If the name sounds familiar, it’s because this is not the first time we talk about him. Traore had been linked with a move to Old Trafford for quite a while now. In fact, there were reports of the 16-year-old reaching an agreement with United in March this year, but the move itself was announced by the club a few days ago. The former Paris Saint-Germain youngster is a France Under-17 international, and already accompanied the squad on the pre-season training camp in Austria. He came close to sign with Juventus, but chose United instead. And he made his debut in the 3-2 defeat to Wolverhampton on Saturday in the Under-18 Premier League Cup.
And if you ask any member of the coaching staff, everybody seems to like Traore so far. They are impressed with his personality, and now he can bring lots of positive things to the side.
“Traore is a boy we’ve been looking at for a while,” Under-18s coach Kieran McKenna told MUTV recently. “He is a really powerful midfielder who likes to run box to box. He is very strong technically and is improving all the time. “He’s a nice man and his English is improving. He’s settling in well with the boys and has taken to the club really well.”
But who is Traore? Everybody knows he is a 16-year-old talented youngster who spent time with PSG before joining United. He left PSG since he believed he wouldn’t get enough playing time in the Ligue 1 giants. If that sounds familiar, it’s because Goncalo Guedes did the same thing during the past summer. The Portuguese star is thriving at Valencia CF this season, and Traore wants to have that same impact on United’s academy. And it only takes one look to him out there to realise he is a special talent.
His playing style is quite simple, and he looks a lot like Paul Pogba. He operates as a box-to-box midfielder, and should form a world-class partnership with Spanish midfielder Arnau Puigmal, who also joined the Academy side earlier this year. Puigmal and Traore could become part of a youth patrol loaded with talent that also includes names such as Alex Fojticek, Angel Gomes, Largie Ramazani, and Tahith Chong. Other young players such as Demetri Mitchell and Scott McTominay are quickly settling in the senior side as well.
Traore turns 17 in January and should now be eligible for the FA Youth Cup campaign, with the Reds facing Derby County on 13 December. He signed a four-year professional contract, but will spend the first one playing for the Academy side. Although honestly, Traore should appear at some point in the senior team sooner than later, though. If he settles nicely in England and his playing style adapts, we could see him playing at Old Trafford for the first team quite soon.
The talent is clearly there.