Leicester City do not muck around in the transfer window and once again they appear to have landed a gem in Patson Daka.
A regular of the Premier League rumour mill for the past 12 months, his goalscoring record is incredible – comparable even with fellow Red Bull Salzburg graduate Erling Haaland.
You have no doubt heard about Daka’s scarcely believable goalscoring exploits, but what else has convinced Brendan Rodgers to part with £27m for the striker. We have taken a deep dive into Daka’s core attributes to find out…
Over the past two seasons Daka’s finishing has been comparable with the very best strikers in the world. No, that is not an exaggeration.
During the 2019/20 campaign he scored 24 goals in just 21 starts. This equated to a bonkers 1.15 goals per 90 minutes, a better scoring rate than both Robert Lewandowski and Kylian Mbappe managed during the same season.
Incredibly, his numbers got even more ridiculous last term with Daka managing 27 goals in just 21 starts or 1.24 strikes per 90 minutes. In Europe’s top five leagues, this strike rate was only bettered by Lewandowski and free-scoring Atalanta man Luis Muriel.
What it is that makes Daka so lethal in front of goal?
One of his most lethal weapons is his ability to score with either foot. Of his 29 Bundesliga strikes last season, 13 were scored with his right foot, six with his left and four were headers. The rest were made up of penalties, tap-ins or deflected efforts. It is a cliché, but Daka seriously can score from anywhere, such is his comfort striking the ball with either foot.
Ice cold blood flows freely in his veins as well. Daka’s composure is impressive considering his tender years and one-on-one you will always back him to convert.
Over the course of his career he has not taken many chances to score, averaging close to 0.50 goals per shot on target in each of his two full seasons at Salzburg.
Of course, Daka’s incredible finishing ability would be useless if he was not able to conjure up shooting opportunities regularly. He is able to do this thanks to his incredible movement off the ball.
Over the past few seasons the trademark Daka run has been a late one across his defender to latch onto a through ball. He has also shown a tendency to dart from a central position into the half space to open things up for his teammates, if he does not receive the ball himself.
Daka’s tremendous pace also makes him a serious threat when there is space in behind. Last season there were more than a few occasions when he would camp out on the shoulder of the last man, waiting for his opportunity to strike.
The Zambian can even take the ball in a number 10 position before spinning in behind, as well as running the channels if needs be. In short, his off the ball game is extremely well rounded making him a nuisance to defend against.
His intelligent movement extends to hold up play as well. Last season his body positioning saw him draw 1.52 fouls per game. Leicester will like the sound of that considering they possess one of the Premier League’s best dead ball specialists in James Maddison.
As Cengiz Under learned last season, excelling in possession is not the only thing you need to play for Brendan Rodgers. The Leicester boss also expects his forwards to contribute significantly without the ball.
Over the past few years Kelechi Iheanacho has improved markedly in this regard as has James Maddison. Daka, meanwhile, joins the club having already shown he is effective in the defensive phase.
Much like Leicester, Salzburg’s defensive line is high and he is often the one to instigate the press. Physically he has no issue chasing the ball down but his defensive positioning is impressive too. In his European games last season he averaged well over one tackle per game and he also racked up an fair amount of interceptions in the league.
So far Daka’s best performances have come in a 4-4-2 featuring two defensively minded central midfield players. This season he was mainly fielded alongside Karim Adeyemi, whose positional tendencies are not dissimilar from Iheanacho’s.
Generally speaking Adeyemi was the one to drop slightly deeper and feed Daka with through balls, with the German ending the campaign with nine assists. Iheanacho also looks to drop between the lines, suggesting that he and Daka could strike up a good understanding.
However, he has the skills to develop into a lone striker as well. It will be interesting to see how he develops over the next few years.