More than a few eyebrows would have been raised at the news of Lassina Traoré's move to Shakhtar Donetsk this summer. Just two years after he joined Ajax from the youth side of the Dutch giant's affiliate in Cape Town, Traoré made the $12 million move to Ukraine as one of the first signings of new manager Roberto De Zerbi, who left Sassuolo to take up the post.
Just 20 years old, Traoré is a raw talent with bags of ability and the numbers to prove it. 23 goals and 11 asssits with Ajax's youth side saw the forward promoted to the first team, where he scored 12 and assisted as many in 31 appearences. It was surprising, then, when he left Johan Cruyff Arena for a new challenge in Ukraine, where, with all due respect, the standard of play is a level lower.
Shakhtar CEO Sergei Palkin was ecstatic the club was able to secure Traoré, saying, "To be honest, until recently it was hard to believe that we would be able to sign him up just for one reason – in most cases, people don't leave Ajax so easily ... We consider Traoré to be one of the most promising forwards in Europe these days."
Followers of Serie A have noted that De Zerbi's all-out attacking style of play could be a great fit for Traoré. Surrounded by other talented attackers providing him quality service, Traoré's move out east could see him take his game up another level and score goals for fun.
He has hit the ground running in Ukraine, scoring two goals in as many games. The first was set up for him with a beautiful pass from Manor Solomon...
— FC SHAKHTAR ENGLISH (@FCShakhtar_eng) July 25, 2021
...while the second goal came by way of a perfect delivery placed right on to his head by Marlos.
⚒ 2 matches
⚽ 2 goals
— FC SHAKHTAR ENGLISH (@FCShakhtar_eng) July 31, 2021
If the opening two games of the season are anything to go on, defenders in the Ukrainian Premier League will soon be terrified of coming up against Shakhtar and Traoré. The youngster's strength, size and knack for being in the perfect position combine to make a lethal combination perfect for any top striker.