Adama Traore has finally completed the sort of transfer that he could only dream of.
Amid significant interest in his services from Tottenham, the Wolves winger sealed a return to boyhood club Barcelona on an initial loan deal with the option to make the move permanent.
The 26-year-old has certainly showed signs of improvement since making the move from the Catalan giants to Aston Villa in 2015.
Despite making four appearances for Barcelona before he left, Traore has since made 237 appearances in the English game after adapting to life in the Premier League and EFL.
As well as learning plenty from coaches such as Tim Sherwood, Tony Pulis, Nuno Espirito Santo and Bruno Lage, the winger has undergone something of a physical transformation since leaving the Nou Camp.
Obviously your body changes as you grow older and Traore is no different, but his radical transformation is all the more noticeable, given he does not look like your archetypal footballer with his muscular arms and stocky frame.
A series of pictures have emerged in Spanish publication Marca showing how Traore, the former Aston Villa and Middlesbrough star, has changed from scrawny winger to a powerfully-built player who has become key to his side.
And the player even revealed he doesn’t actually lift weights when training.
“It’s hard to believe, but I don’t do weights. It’s genetic. I exercise, but I gain mass very quickly.”
Following a clash with Liverpool in 2020, Jurgen Klopp was full of praise for the player.
“He finally found his manager who found a position for him.
“At Middlesbrough he was exceptional, but somebody had to give him the right information.
“[He is] A big, big talent. You would never have thought he is that young, but he is still very young, and now he has found it [the right manager]. It was always clear it would happen one day, and now it has. Good for Wolves!
“He is really dangerous. In a big space [Leicester striker] Jamie Vardy is difficult to defend, but I would say Traore is even more difficult to defend because his speed is exceptional.”
After arriving in England, it was clear that everyone was very excited by his potential.
Speaking at his unveiling, then-Villa boss Tim Sherwood said: “He’s someone I have been tracking for a long time. He’s physically a man – and he has been for some time. He’s a big, powerful boy, very quick, dynamic and a maverick-type player. Those players are few and far between.
“We’re delighted he has chosen Villa to continue his development because that’s what he is: he’s not the finished article by any means, but he’s certainly a player who can help us out now. But for the long-term future of the club, he’s magnificent.
“He stays wide, he likes to get the ball, pick it up and run at defenders, he doesn’t give them a minute’s peace. I wouldn’t like to compare him with any player, hopefully he’ll make his own name for himself and everyone will want to be the new Adama Traoré.
“I went to Barcelona to speak to the representatives, so we made a huge effort to bring him to the club, we showed him that this is a great stage, but also a lot of work on the training field to improve what he already has.”
After moving to Middlesbrough one year later, Tony Pulis played a key role in helping to rebuild Traore’s confidence, saying that he made him ‘his best friend’.
Pulis explained: “Picking him up from the start, he lacked a lot of confidence, and a bit of self esteem. I just made him my best friend, as I have done with other people in the past, who I think have talent that they haven’t really produced.
“The lads knew he would get special treatment. A few people were frustrated there with him. People could see there was enormous amounts of untapped talent there. It was just getting it out of him, turning that tap on, so that talent wouldn’t be wasted. I spent a bit of time with him, we gave him quite a bit of leeway.
“The balance of the team was all about getting Adama wide in one-on-one positions as much as possible when we had the ball – training sessions were all about getting the ball to Adama as quickly as we possibly can.
“I used to say to Adama, just take them on. You either get to the by-line and get crosses in, or if you are cut off, come inside and get a shot away. He’s got a good left foot – he’s not as confident as he should be with it, he could come in side and score goals.
“We simplified it, gave him licence to be a bit looser in the team, and everyone bought into it, because he started to produce the goods. He was creating chances, and scoring goals, and his confidence, that wasn’t there when I first went in, just flourished.
“It was lovely to see him grow as a person and an individual. He’s a fantastic lad, he used to make me a nice cup of tea.
“There’s no one more pleased than me to see him doing well, because of the personality he is, he is a lovely kid.”
After having his £18million release clause triggered, Wolves completed a move to sign Traore and offered him a platform to prove himself at Premier League level, something that he did with some eye-catching displays.
Describing his play, Nuno Espirito Santo said: “Adama is unique all over football , there is no player like him.
“The moment we and the team-mates realise how good Adama can be, I hope I will be here to see it.
“He is very special.
“I am always hoping for that special thing to happen but it is there, there is no doubt about it.
“Since he joined Wolves the differences in performance still exist but he is growing and it (his consistency) is going up.”
Given the caliber of performances during his time at Molineux it’s no surprise to see Traore seal a move to one of the best clubs in the world.
At the age of 26 with the world at his feet, the winger will be hoping that he can continue his track record of improving every year.
If he does, then Traore could establish himself as a hero with the club that let him go just six and a half years ago.