The summer of 2015 was a busy one for Stoke City’s transfer team – and transfer gossips.
Stoke, who had finished the season with a 6-1 spanking of Liverpool to finish ninth in the Premier League, had lost key man Steven Nzonzi for £7m to Seville and keeper Asmir Begovic was heading to Chelsea for £8m.
But they were being linked with some exciting names, including Yevhen Konoplyanka and Andriy Yarmolenko, as well as Xherdan Shaqiri, who did ultimately arrive for a club record £12m from Inter Milan.
And then there was Adama Traore, one of the underlying stories of the summer, one that kept bubbling away but never coming to the boil. Stoke had already tried to bring him across in the summer of 2014.
The fella who is now being linked with a move to Liverpool – for a price quoted between £70m and £100m.
Pundit Paul Robinson has also tipped Traore to seal a stunning, big-money switch to Anfield, claiming he is exactly the type of player he could see Liverpool signing.
And though our colleagues at the ECHO suggest a move is unlikely at this stage, Klopp has made no secret of his admiration for Traore in recent months.
And he might have been at Stoke for next to nothing.
Traore was on the fringes at Barcelona and Mark Hughes had already tapped that market to sign Bojan, Marc Muniesa, Ibrahim Afellay and Moha.
We reported at the time: “Stoke are ready to bide their time as they consider making a second attempt to sign Barcelona teenager Adama Traore. And Hughes isn’t deterred by claims that both Manchester United and Tottenham have also been tracking the 18-year-old winger.
“Barcelona were believed to be ready to loan out their young protege to try to further his fledgling career and Stoke were among several clubs vying for his signature before a U-turn saw Barca opt to keep him under their wing for another season.
“Stoke will keep up diplomatic contacts with the Nou Camp, however, so they are ready to make another move for Traore should he become available.
“It is thought the powers-that-be at Barcelona are far more likely to do business with Stoke these days after observing Marc Muniesa’s progress at the Britannia Stadium over the past 12 months. Hughes’ own playing connections from the 1980s do Stoke no harm either, while the Potters’ sympathetic handling of Bojan Krkic since his move from the Nou Camp to England has also gone down well.”
Traore did ultimately become available and, then 19, he visited Clayton Wood for talks, hopeful of getting a deal over the line.
Instead, Aston Villa barged in to woo his representatives and sealed a deal worth an initial £7m. They would be relegated and Troare would be sold to Middlesbrough… who would be relegated from the top flight in his first season too.
Against Stoke, Boro manager Aitor Karanka made him switch wings at half-time to stay on the dug-out side of the pitch because he felt he needed constant instruction.
But the flying winger found top form in the Championship under Tony Pulis, who was a huge fan, and earned an £18m move to Wolves in the summer of 2018.
Now aged 24, he has been one of the stars of the season for Wolves before everything was put on hold.
Nuno Espito Santo has said previously: “He has a contract with the club. He’s happy here, puts a lot of energy, dedication, into things and wants to improve. He’s happy. Things that happen outside, we can’t control.”
He added: “The talent is there. Last season was not so good, but players have ups and downs. We give them the confidence to go out there and express themselves.”
And Klopp is obviously a fan.
The Liverpool boss said: “And Traore now, at the moment I would say he is, pretty much, unplayable. I’ve said it now a couple of times and it is still true.
“He is now not only a winger anymore, he keeps the ball, holds the ball and sets up goals, obviously.
“That makes it so difficult, each ball you lose is 100 per cent a counter attack and half a goal.”