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In profile: Adama Traore

Sports Mole takes a closer look at 18-year-old Barcelona attacker Adama Traore.

Barcelona might be one of the richest clubs in the world, but to every football supporter, there is something extra special about seeing a player develop through the ranks and break into the first-team set-up.

Barca parted with a significant fee to sign Luis Suarez in the summer, but the likes of Munir El Haddadi and Sandro Ramirez have been in and around the first team since the start of the season.

The name Adama Traore is not one that will be too familiar to a wider audience, but those inside Barcelona know that they have someone a little bit special.

So, who is 18-year-old Adama Traore? Here, Sports Mole looks at the rise of the latest prodigy from La Masia.

Adama Traore of FC Barcelona during the UEFA Youth League Semi Final match between Schalke 04 and FC Barcelona at Colovray Stadion on April 11, 2014© Getty Images

Born in L'Hospitalet de Llobregat, Barcelona to Malian parents, Traore's abilities on the football field were quickly recognised by his local club. L'Hospitalet did not have long with the attacker, however, with Barcelona making their move when Traore was just eight years of age.

A star at La Masia, Traore's rise through the ranks did not go unnoticed. Strength, power and lightning pace made the attacker a regular scorer at youth level. It was not until 2013 that he became a regular with Barcelona B, but Traore clocked up more than 40 league appearances for the B side.

On November 23, 2013, Traore made his first-team debut for Barcelona, with the then 17-year-old replacing Neymar in a 4-0 La Liga win over Granada. Three days later, the attacker made his Champions League debut against Ajax.

Pressure on Barca boss Gerardo Martino in the second half of last season harmed Traore's appearances last term, but he has been seriously knocking on the door in the new campaign. Munir and Sandro – two more outstanding talents – have been favoured, but that could be about to change.

Barcelona's forward Pedro Rodriguez (up) is congratulated by his teammate Barcelona's forward Munir el Haddadi after scoring during the Spanish Copa del Rey match agains Huesca on December 16, 2014© Getty Images

Traore's star moment on the football field came just last week, when he netted his first senior goal in Barca's 8-1 win over Huesca in the Copa del Rey. Granted, the strike was against Segunda B opposition, but the player's movement, touch and finishing ability were there for all to see.

The performance would have not come as a surprise to those that have seen Traore develop, but his name is now one that will not be easily forgotten. Clubs were interested in taking the attacker on loan at the start of this season, but Traore's incredible development meant that the deal was a non-starter.

A loan move in January is still a possibility, with no shortage of interested clubs, but it is understood that Barca boss Luis Enrique wants the Spanish-born player to become a regular squad member in the second half of the campaign.

Luis Enrique Martinez faces the media during his official presentation as the new coach of FC Barcelona at Camp Nou on May 21, 2014© Getty Images

At international level, Traore has already represented the country of birth, Spain, at Under-16, Under-17 and Under-19 level, but earlier this year, the teenager committed his international future to Mali. That said, an appearance for the African nation has still not occurred and therefore as it stands, the youngster's international future is still open for discussion.

At club level, however, Traore's future is secure. The attacker signed a three-year deal with Barcelona in November, which tied him to the Catalan outfit until 2018. Something says that won't be the last Barca contract that Traore signs.

After netting against Huesca, the teenager told reporters: "My greatest strength is my speed and power. This is what stands out more but I'll get better, I have many attributes. Today I say that my speed and power are my best weapons, but I wish I could talk about other things in the future."

Watching supremely gifted technicians emerge from La Masia has been a joy in recent seasons, but there is just something about pure pace and power that gets the supporters excited. The rest will follow, but Traore's natural attributes could make him one of the stars of the next few seasons.

Lionel Messi of FC Barcelona celebrates with his teammates after scoring his team's fourth goal during the La Liga match against Sevilla FC at Camp Nou on November 22, 2014© Getty Images

Carlos Puyol and Victor Valdes were both big losses to the Barca dressing room, while Xavi and to a certain degree Andres Iniesta are approaching the home straight. That will be tough for the Catalan outfit, but the future is bright.

As it stands, Barcelona cannot enter the transfer market until January 2016, which places bigger pressure on the club's youngsters, especially with the number of matches that are played each season. Those inside the club are not worried, however, and they shouldn't be, as La Masia rolls out another superstar.

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Barcelona's forward Pedro Rodriguez (up) is congratulated by his teammate Barcelona's forward Munir el Haddadi after scoring during the Spanish Copa del Rey match agains Huesca on December 16, 2014
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