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RB Leipzig are reportedly set to take advantage of their Red Bull Salzburg connections yet again to prise Patson Daka from the Austrian champions before anyone else, and that narrows the list of cheaper alternatives to Erling Haaland down for the likes of Manchester United and Chelsea.
Daka has been in stunning form for Salzburg this season with the Zambian international scoring 31 goals in 37 games across all competitions for the Austrian Bundesliga leaders and also providing 10 assists.
Despite his remarkable output at the Red Bull Arena, Salzburg are willing to part ways with the African centre-forward for as little as £17million (€20m).
That’s per Austrian newspaper Salzburger Nachtricten, who named United, Manchester City, Liverpool and Arsenal as potential suitors for the 22-year-old back in March.
Liverpool are certainly familiar with Daka, dubbed the next Samuel Eto’o by Zambia head coach Milutin Sredejovic, having conceded twice to him last pre-season as they drew 2-2.
But Transfermarkt say Daka is now set to join Leipzig in the summer as the German Bundesliga outfit look to restructure once manager Julian Nagelsmann links up with Bayern Munich, with Dayot Upamecano also following him to Bavaria.
And Daka making the familiar switch between the two Red Bull-owned clubs means there is one fewer alternative to the £130m-rated Borussia Dortmund frontman Haaland.
Chelsea were not mentioned by the report but it is easy to see why they too would cast glancing eyes towards the Zambian, given his profile, potential and price tag.
As with many former Salzburg talents before him, Daka appears primed to explode at a higher level and become the next player to prompt the question: ‘Why did no-one sign him when he was at Salzburg?’
See here: Upamecano, Sadio Mane, Duje Caleta-Car, Konrad Laimer, the pre-Liverpool Naby Keita and of course, Haaland. Dominik Szoboszlai and Amadou Haidara will soon be on that list too.
The Red Bull production line is rightly famed and Daka, should he complete a move from Salzburg to Leipzig, will become the 19th player to make the switch between the Austrian and German outfits.
Salzburg boss Jesse Marsch, who will replace Nagelsmann as Leipzig boss at the end of the season and therefore continued to manage Daka, recently said of the striker: “He is a great lad on and off the pitch, he is hardworking and he is a little fast.
“It’s a just lot of fun working with him and I hope he continues with this development he has a lot of potential, he is just a fantastic player.”
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Zambia manager Sredejovic has meanwhile gone as far to say: “I would say he’s on the road to replace what Samuel Eto’o once was in representing Africa and African football.
“He could be compared to Sadio Mane or Samuel Eto’o, with the level of skill and speed that he has, with the sense for space, sense of positioning, in the right place at the right time.”
Daka’s agent, the former Tottenham striker Freddie Kanoute, recently backed up the reports that he might be on the move.
“I think it’s time for a new challenge at the end of the season,” he said, although that move does not look likely to be the Premier League now.
“He really got started this season. He is developing almost daily.”
And though Daka may not be at the level of a Haaland – at least not yet – at £17m, and given his skillset, there is plenty to suggest he would have been a cost-effective addition for United or Chelsea if they to miss out on Haaland.
That no longer looks to be a possibility with the uber-efficient Leipzig instead beating the rest of Europe to the striker.
And that narrows the list of alternatives for United and Chelsea, though Romelu Lukaku – who has previously played for both clubs – has been mentioned as one potential Plan B.
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Inter Milan’s Lukaku would be far more pricey, closer to £90m, though and also turns 28 next month meaning he is not as long-term a solution as a Haaland would be.
Eintracht Frankfurt’s Andre Silva, 25, is a younger option and has 25 goals in 29 Bundesliga games this term, the same amount Norwegian Haaland has managed.
Silva too would be more easily affordable at around £26m due to an apparent release clause in his contract although the Portuguese struggled at his last big club, AC Milan.
Torino’s Andrea Belotti is among the other players to be mentioned as a cheaper choice than Haaland, but Daka feels like an opportunity missed for the likes of United and Chelsea, who are expected to push hard to sign the Dortmund No 9 over the coming months.
For those that have seen him, it would surprise very few were Daka to star for Leipzig in Germany next season and for his transfer value to double if not treble. United and Chelsea will only have themselves to blame if they end up wanting to sign Daka in a few years’ time for a much higher price.
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