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Patson Daka would be a huge gamble for Jurgen Klopp and Liverpool

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In 28 league matches this season, Patson Daka has scored 27 goals. He’s assisted a further seven for good measure, producing a goal involvement every 57 minutes. On paper, it’s the kind of record which should interest any club. Particularly for Liverpool and FSG, whose emphasis has always been on signing future superstars, the prospect of picking up Red Bull Salzburg’s heir to the Erling Haaland throne initially seems to make a lot of sense. However, the reality is a lot less straightforward.

For one thing, regardless of the success of Haaland, a question mark still hangs over the transferability of performances in Austria to the top level. Red Bull Salzburg are by far and away the most dominant team in the country, so it is reasonable to expect at least an element of inflation when it comes to Daka’s goalscoring figures. This is reflected in the forward’s failure to notch at all in the Champions League group stages, although his campaign was admittedly impacted by injury.



Even Haaland, who by all accounts has been a roaring success with Borussia Dortmund, has seen a slight drop-off in his numbers since making the move from Salzburg. In his final half-season in the Austrian Bundesliga, the Norwegian sensation was averaging a goal involvement every 44.5 minutes, a scarcely believable contribution. Over the course of his season and a half in Germany, that’s reverted to an involvement roughly every 67 minutes — still scarily impressive, but evidence that even the best forwards will suffer a decline in output when making the step up from a smaller league. Furthermore, the German top flight is friendlier to strikers than the Premier League (looking at you, Timo Werner), so if Daka were to move to Liverpool then a somewhat steeper downturn should be expected.



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Even putting aside the relative limitations of the Austrian top flight, there are some indications that Daka would not be the ideal man for Liverpool. The most worrying factor is the volume of chances upon which the Zambian striker relies. He averaged 4.3 shots per 90 minutes this season, mostly from inside the box — Diogo Jota’s 3.72 shots per 90 is the closest comparable figure from Liverpool this season, with most of the forwards averaging a full shot less per game than Daka. Given that the Salzburg man would surely initially be introduced as a squad player, he simply would not find himself in quite so many prime shooting situations were he to make the move to Anfield.



To continue the Jota comparison, the Portuguese forward was averaging just 2.72 shots per 90 in his final season with Wolves. Such figures point towards room to grow within a better side, rather than a potential cap on output. It’s something of a paradox, in the sense that Liverpool obviously don’t want to target players posting poor numbers, but there is definitely a sense that certain statistics can be too good to be true. In Daka’s case, his shot volume is enough to at least raise the possibility that his excellent record is intrinsically tied to the current prominent role he occupies for his club.

The striker also missed six games last season due to a hamstring injury, although as yet there is nothing to suggest that this is part of a recurring problem. Liverpool’s acquisition of Ibrahima Konaté shows that there is no intention of adopting a zero-tolerance approach towards injury records, even despite the horrors of the last campaign. Nonetheless, it’s still one more nagging concern to add to the list when it comes to Daka.

Naturally, it is perfectly possible that Daka could get his big move and blow all of these concerns out of the water. No doubt similar points were raised surrounding Haaland, albeit to a lesser extent, before he ascended to his current status as one of the world’s most sought-after players. Even so, given the multiple risk factors at play, signing Salzburg’s new leading man is less of a no-brainer than it first appears.

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