In ‘Past of The Future’, we will tell a story of an Ajax talent. Where did he grow up? What are his dreams? How did he get into the Ajax Academy? In this second episode: Lassina Franck Traoré.
At the beginning of January, Lassina Traoré finally moved to Ajax officially. The club scouted the Burkinese at an early stage and then let him play in the Youth Academy of Ajax Cape Town. At the age of 16, he had already made a big impression in the U19’s and later on also in the U21’s. The 12th of January was his 18th birthday and since that day he can officially call himself Ajacied. In Amsterdam, he follows in the footsteps of his relative Bertrand. But where did Lassina grow up and what are his dreams for the future?
Lassina grew up in Bobo-Dioulasso, the second largest city in Burkina Faso. He started to play football — similar to many children — on the street. Soon he earned his place in the youth academy of Rahimo FC, one of the biggest clubs in Burkina Faso. He played there for about 6 years, after which he made the step to Ajax Cape Town. After Ajax scouted him and he played in the Academy of Ajax Cape Town, he came to the Toekomst a few times on trial. Finally, in January 2019, his transfer was officially announced after having played for at Cape Town for 1,5 years.
Because of his transfer to Ajax Cape Town Lassina had to live on his own from a young age, but his move to the Netherlands causes him to be even further away from home. His mother has worked in Paris as a nurse for about 10 years now, so he already got used to it when he was a kid. Lassina’s father raised him and his siblings for most of their younger years. His father is a former international and is currently working as a youth coach. For the talent, the situation is easier than before, mainly because of his time in Cape Town.
Since this year, Lassina can finally call himself an Ajax player, but he already was impressed by the club and he enjoyed his trials in Amsterdam very much. “Ajax is a very big club. The level is very high here, much higher than with my own team for instance. It is not very strange, because this is the top” [Ajax TV, March 2018]. He only wanted one thing: to come to Ajax. After his trials here, the attacker could no longer play official matches for any club in South Africa. For that reason he could not wait until he would finally be 18 years old, so he could finalize his transfer.
Lassina is grateful to Ajax Cape Town for the past 1,5 years. “I will never forget Ajax Cape Town. It was a great time, I really enjoyed it and I met many great people. Everyone has tried to help me and I’m glad to have been part of the club” [December 2018, Ajax Cape Town site]. Head Youth Development Ajax Cape Town Hans Vonk is impressed by Lassina. “He can become a sensation at Ajax” [March 2018, Ajax TV].
Meanwhile Traoré has played his first official matches in an Ajax shirt. On January 28, he made his debut for Ajax U21 against FC Volendam (1–3) and he scored immediately. A week later he was subbed on against FC Dordrecht and played in a few friendlies of the reserves of the first team. He once again made a great impression with his dribbles and passes. In the friendlies with the reserves of the first team, he assisted once (v PEC Zwolle) and scored twice (v AZ).
Not even a very long time ago a family member of Lassina played in Amsterdam: cousin Bertrand Traoré. He is one of the — if not the — best-known footballers from Burkina Faso and after his loan period to Ajax — which ended after the Europa League final against Manchester United — he transferred from Chelsea to Olympique Lyon, where he is still playing this season. Lassina and Bertrand talked together about Ajax before the talent finally came to Amsterdam. “I talked to him about Ajax and was even there when he played his first game for the club. Bertrand has given a lot of advice and spoke only good words about Ajax. He said that the club has a lot of great (young) players and that it is a very good place to develop yourself as a player” [Ajax.nl, January 2019].
Since last summer, another attacker from Burkina plays for Ajax: Hassane Bandé. Unfortunately, he hasn’t played an official match in Ajax’ first team yet due to a serious injury, but according to Lassina the transfers of the two talents show that there are many good young players from Burkina Faso. “A new generation is coming. We have many young and talented players, including Hassane who is at Ajax since last summer “, says Lassina. [Ajax.nl, January 2019]
FUTURE & DREAMS
Lassina is a player who can actually play in any attacking position. He doesn’t really have a preference for a position, but he thinks that he can mainly get his chances as a striker. “I can also play as a winger and as a number 10. We will see what works out the best. I know that I have to keep working hard, but I also know that I can do it. I’m ready if the trainer gives me the chance.” [Ajax.nl, January 2019] He doesn’t really have one player as an example or idol. However, he admires many former Ajax players, including Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Luis Suárez and Johan Cruyff. Zlatan was one of Lassina’s childhood idols.
The goal and dream of the 18-year-old talent is to join (permanently) the first team and win many prizes with the club. He wants to continue his development and wants to improve every day. In this way he hopes to get a nice career. He also wants to excel and to be more important for the national team of Burkina Faso. “My goal and dream is to play in the first team and I want to win a lot of prizes with Ajax, maybe even the UEFA Champions League. With Burkina Faso I want to win the Africa Cup and go to the World Cup for the first time in history” [March 2018, Ajax TV].
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