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Tuesday, 23 May 2017

I’ll give Mourinho ‘a hug’ in Europa League final – Chelsea loanee


Chelsea loanee Bertrand Traore has told the Daily Mirror that he will give former manager Jose Mourinho “a hug” when Ajax take on Manchester United in the Europa League final on Wednesday, but insists he will be “hungry” to score against him.

Traore has netted 13 goals in 36 appearances in all competitions for Ajax since moving from Stamford Bridge on loan last summer, four of which have come in the Dutch club’s run to Wednesday’s final in Stockholm.

Mourinho’s United now stand between Traore and the first major silverware of his club career, and the 21-year-old says he still harbours affection for the manager who allowed him to train and play with Chelsea’s senior squad.

“For sure, I’ll give him a hug,” Traore said of Mourinho. “I’m excited to see him. Since he left Chelsea I haven’t met with him so it will be good to see him.

“But I also have to score against him. This final is very important for us and our young careers. We are a young team hungry for success so it is a dream to play in this game and to win it would be a really big thing for us.


“I owe Jose Mourinho a lot because he was the one who took me on a preseason tour at 17 and gave me the opportunity to score goals, and then he and club decided to give me a professional contract and send me on loan to Vitesse Arnhem [in January 2014].

“I had a great one-and-a-half years at Vitesse and he called me back to the first-team squad and I got opportunities, even if I didn’t play a lot before he left.

“I wish he could have stayed longer but he left the club and now in Stockholm he has to do his job and I have to do mine. You accept it. But for sure, I’ll be happy to meet him in Stockholm — although if I score he might not be so pleased to see me.”

Traore’s performances were criticised in his first few months at Ajax but the Burkina Faso international has since established himself as a key figure, and he says he has made significant progress this season.

“The style of coaching is different here and the Premier League is different to the league here,” he added. “At Ajax it is more like school. That is why I came here. I am young and I need to keep on learning. Here is the best place to learn more and get some first-team football.

“I feel like a leader here. I have more responsibility on the pitch, which is a different feeling going into a big game like this final. It is a different role that I have here [compared] to what I had last season and I have developed a lot. Now I know about other things.”

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