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Bakaye Traoré: X Factor or Non-Factor?

He was the surprise signing of the summer, with no one being more surprised that Milan wanted him than the player himself. His contract with Nancy was up, he wasn’t being tracked by other clubs, there were no other offers for him, but Milan came in before the season ended to negotiate a deal for him, it was clear he was an intended purchase. However, there are questions about the French-born Malian midfielder who has come to us via 11th place Ligue 1 side Nancy. Having been scouted by Milan and only Milan, will he prove to be an X factor, a variable which will most impact our season’s outcome? Or will he follow some of the other French players we’ve had and prove to be a non-factor?

Into the great unknown for our virtually unknown new midfielder


Traoré was born in France, but plays for the Mali national team. His spot on that team is has only recently become a starting one, despite being good friends with the coach. He has 21 appearances for Mali and 2 goals, one of which came in the African Cup of Nations tournament for Mali this year vs. Guinea. The other seems to have been a penalty vs. Gabon in the same tournament. I believe it was his performances in this tournament that sent Milan scouting. Perhaps his improvement with his national team is a sign that he is ready to peak? Mali did finish 3rd in that tournament this year.



However, the fact that he is 27 years old and has yet to really make an indelible mark of any kind on the footballing world for club or country is a bit disconcerting. He began his senior career at age 18 with Ligue 2 side Amiens, where he played for 6 years. In 106 appearances, he scored 15 goals. In 2009, he was picked up by Ligue 1 side Nancy, where he has played the last 3 years, making 73 appearances and scoring 11 goals.

Bakaye celebrates a goal he scored with his Nancy teammates

He is considered a defensive midfielder and is also considered a bit of a bruiser, something we have already seen with some rough challenges and tackles such as the one that gave Juve a penalty in the Trofeo TIM. But he considers himself a versatile midfielder, and we saw some positives so far, too, like in the Chelsea match when he hooked up with El Shaarawy in a nice one-two that saw the latter shoot just wide. He also proved his manhood (or shall I say nearly lost his manhood?) in that same match by taking a point blank shot from Marko Marin in a place where athletes of other sports wear protection for a reason. So we definitely know he’ll take one for the team. But what will be his contribution?

We're a bit confused on this one, too, honestly

He himself has rather lofty aspirations for his contributions. He is quoted as saying, "I hope to demonstrate my talent here. I have been compared to Patrick Vieira, who at Arsenal showed his ability to perform both in defense and attack.” I would like to see him just do enough to warrant a starting spot, personally. Once he has shown us that coming from a career that is quite average thus far, he can step it up to being successful and warrant his transition to Milan, maybe then he can worry about being compared to Patrick Vieira.

Make us proud!

It is too early to judge whether he could end up like Nocerino, a brilliant transfer who has just exploded at Milan, or more like Taiwo, who never really found his footing in a bigger club. He’s already shown us glimpses of both the good and the bad, so it is hard to know whether he will be an X factor or a non-factor. We can only hope for the best after this crazy summer, and the guy seems like he is ready to work hard and earn his spot. Despite any reservations I may have about his signing, he deserves a warm Milan welcome and our full support. Benvenuto, Traoré. In bocca al lupo!


This post inspired by the music of The Cure’s “Wish” Album

Our next match is the Trofeo Berlusconi
Milan vs. Juventus
Sunday, August 19 • 21:00 CEST (3:00pm EDT)
Stadio San Siro, Milano