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Messi & Xavi set the standard for Traore as Wolves star admits to snubbing NFL trial

12:31 GMT 11/01/2020
Lionel Messi Xavi Barcelona Sevilla Liga 22112014
The flying winger, who continues to catch the eye with more experience in the Premier League, is a product of the famed La Masia academy system

Adam Traore is looking to take inspiration from the iconic figures he followed through the La Masia academy system at Barcelona, with the hunger of Lionel Messi and Xavi being replicated by the Wolves winger.

The flying 23-year-old spent 10 years within the youth ranks in Catalunya, before going on to take in four senior appearances.

He benefited considerably from working day in, day out with some of the very best in the business.

Messi, Xavi, Sergio Busquets and Carles Puyol set the standard for those around them, with Traore – who is starting to unlock his undoubted potential after previously struggling for end product – looking to help Wolves become Barcelona-esque in their approach.

“Players like Messi and Xavi are always hungry,” he told the Daily Mail.

“Whatever the game or the competition – even if it is table-tennis – they want to win. We used to play two-touch football games after training and they would always be desperate to win. It taught you about life as well as football.

“You look at Messi, everything he has won, he is spoken about every day in the media, but he is still hungry. Most of the time, some players don't have that quality. They win something and then they relax. Not everyone has the hunger, and maybe that is why these players are at the top.

“Do we have those qualities at Wolves? Yes, for sure. Look at Joao Moutinho: he's won a lot of things and played for big clubs, but he always wants to compete, always wants to win, even when we play head tennis. This is the mentality of the team and this is my mentality too.

“Can Wolves reach the Champions League? Why not? We will see how the season goes but anything is possible.”

Traore, with five goals and seven assists to his name this season, is looking to guide Wolves back into continental competition this season – with Nuno’s side still in the 2019-20 Europa League.

He has come into contention for senior international recognition with Spain, while still being eligible to represent Mali.

Traore is living the dream he has been chasing for many years, with the powerful forward admitting that he passed up the chance to try his luck in American Football when offered the opportunity to head for trials while moving through the system at Barca.

“Yes, that happened,” he said.

“When I was in Barcelona, my personal trainer at the time told me he had a friend from the USA. He said why couldn't I go there and try the testing that they [NFL teams] do.

“I didn't think about it. I thought it was funny. My dream was to be a football player.

“It's hard to believe, but I don't do weights. It's genetic. I exercise, but I gain mass very quickly.

“You never know if there is anyone faster than me, but I know my speed and most of the time I use it for good, but I don't know if there is anyone faster.”

Traore will be looking to put his obvious attributes to good use on Saturday when Wolves take in a home date with Newcastle.