Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Leicester City could profit from electrifying gamble involving Daka

Partnering Patson Daka with Jamie Vardy in the second half of the season could produce electrifying results for Leicester City – but it might be too great a gamble for Brendan Rodgers to take, writes Jordan Blackwell of Leicestershire Live.

City’s £23million striker Daka has scored five goals in the Europa League and got his second Premier League goal in the 4-0 win over Newcastle United as he started ahead of Vardy with games coming thick and fast in December.

City ended last season with a front two, Vardy and Kelechi Iheanacho working in tandem to guide the club to FA Cup glory and nearly seal a Champions League spot.

Zambian has impressed his Leicester City teammates with both his on and off the pitch conduct

Daka arrived having spent much of the past season playing in a strike partnership for RB Salzburg, the Zambian firing 34 goals in 42 outings.

And upon signing, he said he was “excited to be able to be next to Vardy”, a player he grew up revering. But is it possible for the duo to start next to each other?

While Daka has been signed as a player who can have an immediate impact, he is also seen as a long-term replacement for Vardy, given their similarities. Both have pace to burn and are keen to get beyond the last man and into the box to finish.

But while Daka is used to featuring alongside another speedster, he could find himself isolated in games for Salzburg, particularly when they came up against stronger opposition. The same point has been made about Vardy, who while possessing a decent first touch, doesn’t drop deep to get on the ball often.

He was named the best player in Austria after scoring 34 goals in 42 appearances RB Salzburg

For Rodgers, playing two strikers who can be marked out of the game could be a risk.

Simon Clark, an Austria-based journalist who follows the country’s top flight for The Other Bundesliga podcast, would be excited to see how Daka fares alongside City’s talisman.

Soon after Daka joined, he said: “Salzburg generally played with the same style and that was in a 4-4-2, so Daka is very used to playing with a strike partner.

“(A partnership with Vardy) is something I’d love to see. They are similar players, but it would be pretty electrifying to see them play together.

“He was often partnered with (Salzburg striker) Sekou Koita and he’s also a player with pace to burn and they had a fruitful partnership.

“I think it’s a case of time will tell with those two.

“But sometimes (Daka) can look very isolated if he’s playing up top without good service and against a good defence.”

Daka has been 7 appearances, 2 starts and 3 assists. He has scored 2 goals in the league

As well as learning to play in a new system with new team-mates, Daka has had to get used to playing against a higher level of opposition in the Premier League.

As Clark points out, his goalscoring record in European competition has not stood up to his ratio in the league, with five goals in 26 outings across the Champions League and Europa League.

But there are plenty of quality attributes there for Rodgers to work with, while it is a positive that Daka was assisted by 13 different players last season, suggesting he can profit from any kind of attack, whether the service is coming from out wide, through the middle, or from his strike partner.

“If he can get a half-yard head start on you, it’s very rare that he doesn’t beat you in that duel,” Clark said.

“His positioning as well always seems to be spot on, he has a predator’s instinct and in a team like Salzburg with so many creative players, if you’re in the right area you’re likely to get a chance.

“He’s very much a modern striker in the fact he’s quick, he’s skilful, he’s good in the air and is a poacher.

“But despite his immense record over the last two seasons in the Austrian Bundesliga, he still hasn’t replicated this on the European stage, but maybe that will come with time.”

[Jordan Blackwell, leicestermercury.co.uk]

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