Armand Traore hasn’t played a club level football match in nearly two years.
The 30-year-old is a product of the Arsenal academy. As a youngster he was in the French youth set-up and Arsene Wenger had high expectations for the Senegalese, who even spent time out on-loan at Juventus in 2011.
But Traore’s career seemed to vanish into thin air. Many don’t know that he was a Cardiff City player up until January, having signed for the club permanently last summer following a loan-spell in 2018.
Between his two Cardiff spells, Traore spent time out in Turkey with Rizespor. He was on-loan at Cardiff from Nottingham Forest, had just won promotion to the Premier League and opted for Turkey. But his Turkish dream didn’t go at all to plan.
“I have been experiencing a total hassle for almost two years,” Traore told French outlet Foot Mercato.
“In 2017/18, I went up to the Premier League with Cardiff City. That summer, I signed in Turkey, at Rizespor. They sold me a dream, telling me that after a season, if I helped the team well, I would go to Fenerbahçe – I was fooled.”
Traore never played for the Turkish side. The club were keen to sell from the off but no offers came in, so they dropped him into the development side before waiting to release him last summer.
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“I took a lawyer to send letters to the club,” Traore said of his troubles in Turkey. “They did not like that. They decided to release me, ban me from the training centre, and sent me with the under-23s.
“I sometimes even trained alone. In international week, when everyone was off, I was asked to come and train, alone on a field. I was denied permissions to return to see my family. It ruined my career signing there.”
But Cardiff would give Traore a chance. He only played a handful of games in his initial loan-spell at the club but fans were keen to see how Traore would fair with a new, permanent home.
Neil Warnock brought Traore to South Wales after the start of the campaign, but soon after that, Warnock was gone.
“There, 48 hours after my signature, he (Warnock) decides to resign,” explains Traore. “His replacement Neil Harris, an old-fashioned Englishman, quickly made me understand that I will not stay after January.
“Since then, I’ve been looking for a club. I want to prove that I am there, that I can train, that I can still work. There is no ego. I just want to work.”
In his prime, Traore was one of the most diverse full-backs. He’s an athletic full-back who likes to attack and in that sense, maybe he was a bit before his time.
At only 30-years-old, Traore should still have some of his best years ahead of him. It’ll be interesting to see his next move, but fans will be wishing him well after a turbulent two years.