In the lead up to the 2013-14 season, join us as we count down the best 15 players in the A-League, as voted for by Goal and Sportal.com.au journalists and writers.
All hail the future solution to the Socceroos' problem position at left-back. Adama Traore may well have represented the country of his birth - Ivory Coast - at Under-17, U-19 and U-21 levels, but the 23-year-old has been unequivocal in publically expressing his desire to represent Australia at senior level.
A permanent resident who has plied his trade in this country since 2009, the man born in Bondoukou is closing in on his citizenship, and is widely expected to mount a major challenge for a regular role as fullback for the national team, with Holger Osieck recently declaring that the experiment of shoehorning midfielder Matt McKay into the position is over.
|Gold Coast United [2009-12]
Melbourne Victory [2012-]
David Carney is back in the fold after signing a contract with New York Red Bulls, while Jason Davidson has also earned a call-up to the latest squad, but until the likes of Scott Galloway, Craig Goodwin and Jeremy Walker mature, Traore is the easily the leading A-League candidate to fill the glaring void in Holger Osieck's back four.
After earning a chance with Gold Coast United on the strength of a highlights DVD, Traore impressed in his three seasons in Queensland, before being snapped up by Victory when Clive Palmer pulled the plug at Robina Stadium.
One of the most consistent performers in Ange Postecoglou's first campaign in charge at AAMI Park, his absence through injury late in 2012-13 is frequently highlighted by the coach as a key reason for Victory's failure to progress to the grand final.
Fullback is arguably one of the most important positions in modern football. As many teams shift from 4-4-2 to 4-2-3-1 or 4-3-3, with wingers or central strikers transformed into inside forwards, fullbacks are often the only source of natural width in many teams, particularly those with less gifted or versatile players in the final third.
However, being able to bomb on and join the attack meaningfully is only part of the job - a good left or right-back needs the discipline and intelligence to know when to drop back or stay at home, and must have the technical ability to stifle their opponent. Traore fits the bill in all these categories and is arguably the best fullback in the A-League, something reflected by his status as the only defender to make our top 15.
Defining momentSlamming home the opening goal in style as Gold Coast defeated North Queensland Fury 5-1 in January 2011, Traore's strike helped to bring a small smile to the faces of local supporters in a game intended to raise funds after deadly floods, starting in late December, had ravaged Queensland.