Red Bull Salzburg is gifting world football some exciting talents these days. Erling Haaland had been an absolute sensation for them and he is weaving his magic in the Bundesliga as well. No sooner had Haaland departed, they have come with another youngster named Patson Daka – the 21-year-old footballer from Zambia, whose goal-scoring abilities have created a buzz around Europe, and obviously, the top clubs are highly interested to sign him.

Daka’s total 2019/2020 haul of 27 goals and 12 assists from 45 appearances in all competitions has unsurprisingly caught the attention of clubs across Europe. As a result, Daka is expected to follow the path of Erling Haaland, Naby Keita, Takumi Minamino, and Sadio Mane in eventually leaving Austria for a higher-profile European league.

Born on October 9, 1998, in the Zambian city of Chingola, Daka sought inspiration from his father, who had been a professional footballer.  Daka’s earliest memories of football are watching his father Nathtali taking on opponents out wide. Nathtali triggered havoc on the wings for Nitrogen Stars. Nathtali could discover the ball even from an impossible situation and it seemed, the ball was glued to his feet.

But Nathtali died when Daka was still too young and his death motivated the striker to become a household name.

Daka told The Guardian, “He didn’t have the opportunities I have today. I feel I have achieved the dream he had for me, to see me play at a high level and come to Europe, and create my own legacy. It drives me every time because, wherever he is today, he is proud of me.”

In 2012 Daka was appearing for an exam at school when Airtel Rising Stars – a pan-African grassroots initiative sponsored by the eponymous telecoms company – arrived to hold trials behind his school.

He told The Guardian, “I’d just finished writing when one of my friends told me: ‘Some people have come to select players to represent the province, maybe we can go and you can try your luck.’ We went along and they were about to start. I knew one of the coaches and he told me to rush home for my training kit so I could be a part of it. I ran there and back. After playing for less than 10 minutes, they removed me from the pitch and said: ‘OK, wait for us here.’

Airtel Rising Star observed Daka closely and within 12 months he discovered himself captaining the Zambian Youth Team at the age of just 16!

Daka’s impressive performances as a teenager for Zambia in the Under-17 Africa Cup of Nations in 2015 captured the attention of former Mali international Frederic Kanoute.

“I was then with Kafue Celtic FC and we started talking. That’s how we finally got to meet and that’s how he also gave me the opportunity to come to Europe,” said Daka to the BBC.

On January 1, 2017, Liefering revealed that they had loaned in Daka from Kafue Celtic for the remainder of the season, where he finished the season with 2 goals in 9 appearances.

On July 1, 2017, he was loaned back to Liefering to play an entire season in the Austrian Football First League, after having completed a transfer to Red Bull Salzburg.

Daka signed a five-year contract with Red Bull Salzburg and was initially assigned to the youth wing. He helped the club win the UEFA Youth League, scoring 2 goals in 2 games, and made his competitive debut for Salzburg the following season against Viitorul Constanța on August 24, 2019.

Three days later, he made his league debut as a substitute against Sturm Graz, and he scored his first league goal for the club in a 2–0 home win against Austria Wien.

Three months later, Daka scored against Genk in the UEFA Champions League, becoming the first Zambian player to score in the competition’s group stage.

In December 2019, Daka extended his contract with Salzburg until the summer of 2024.

Daka is a goal-scoring machine for Salzburg.

He has the pace and boldness to make direct runs into the danger zones with or without the ball. He is strong on both foot and as wyscout states that he has taken 48% of shots with his right foot and 39% with the left. He has 60.9% shots on target with an xG of 21.82 and overall goal conversion rate is 27.8%.

Inside the penalty area, the goal conversion rate is 30.8% while 11.8% outside.

After the crosses, the conversion rate is 9.1% and after set-pieces, it is 37.5%.

Total Football Analysis compared Daka’s goal-conversion rate and shots per 90with strikers in Europe’s top five leagues as well as the top divisions from Austria, Belgium, Portugal, and the Netherlands and discovered,  Daka is keeping company with the most elite strikers in Europe for shots per 90 and no other striker in Europe has a higher conversion rate than Daka, who has a phenomenal conversion rate of 36.5%.

For a genuine number 9, to remain calm and composed in front of the goal is very important and Daka is blessed with those two abilities – He frequently uses his first touch to buy himself a yard of space before firing into the far corner with his second touch, managing to do this even when under pressure.

Another key aspect of Daka’s prolific goal-scoring is his late runs across the front of his man and getting a shot on goal from close-range.

Then there is the matter of anticipation and exploiting the moments – if the goalkeeper rebounds while grabbing the ball, Daka simply pounces on it and does not miss the opportunity to hit the net like a true fox in the box.

He has smart movements without the ball and can exploit the half-spaces – either utilize the space behind the defenders to score or exploits it to provide opportunities for his teammates to score.

Another crucial aspect of Daka’s movement is his instinct to look to break lines as soon as Red Bull Salzburg regains possession. Due to his pace and power, it allows Salzburg to exploit any defences that do look to push up and force Salzburg back. Many of these are unselfish runs that pull a defender away from one of his team-mates.

Daka is strongly built and his height – 183 centimeters and power allow him to press the opposition defenders hard and with that, he not only triggers panic in the opposition but at the same time, he can recover possession.

As Total Football Analysis states, “He had made 39 final third recoveries this season via a mixture of counter-pressing and positional pressing situations. 17 of the 39 recoveries (43%) result in a shot and 10 of those 17 ended up on target. We can also see that Daka commonly presses the opposition’s left-back area with 12 recoveries compared to three on the opposite flank. There is also a cluster of three goals from recoveries around the six-yard-box. This backs up our earlier analysis that Daka is persistent and relentless in his hunt for the ball.”

Daka is under the watchful eyes of Jose Mourinho and other top clubs too.

It is just a matter of time that he joins the Premier League, Bundesliga, Italian Serie A, or La Liga.

A bright future is waiting for the Zambian boy!

 

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