Patson Daka’s switch to Leicester City, from Red Bull Salzburg, has sparked excitement among the Blue Army as they look forward to seeing the Zambian in action in the East Midlands.
The 22-year-old agreed a five-year contract at King Power Stadium earlier this week ahead of a 1 July transfer and will link up with Brendan Rodgers’ talented City squad for pre-season later this summer. But who is Daka? Here’s everything you need to know about our latest new recruit…
What’s his background?
Patson was born on 9 October, 1998 in Kafue, home to the second largest national park in the world, the southern gateway to Zambian mining town Kabwe and the Copperbelt.
His first club was Kafue Celtics, where he would play for years as a child, before loan spells at Zambian side Power Dynamos and then FC Liefering in Austria – a club which works closely with the academy at Austrian Football Bundesliga side, Red Bull Salzburg.
At the age of just 16, in 2015, Daka was called up to Zambia’s senior squad to make the first of his 25 appearances for his country. The first of his seven goals for Chipolopolo – The Copper Bullets – came against Algeria in Constantine in 2017.
How did he initially fare in Austria?
Extremely well is the short answer. However, Patson, far more comfortable in a warmer climate, initially spent a six-month trial period in Austria at the height of a harsh winter.
Daka, though, impressed and signed a five-year contract with Red Bull Salzburg in 2017. This came after scoring two goals in as many games to help their Under-19s lift the UEFA Youth League – the most prestigious academy tournament in Europe – at the end of 2016/17.
It was a season which also saw Patson represent Zambia at the U20 CAF African Cup of Nations, where he scored four goals, won the Player of the Tournament prize, and lifted the trophy alongside his team-mates after a goalscoring appearance in the final against Senegal.
Back in Austria, cameo appearances from the substitutes’ bench started to present themselves in 2017/18 as Daka also stepped up on the international stage.
What’s Patson’s international pedigree?
As we’ve already said, Daka started early in international football. Although only in his mid-to-late teenage years, the young Zambian was already a household name in his homeland.
With that exposure came pressure and expectation. Disputes between coaches from Zambia’s senior set-up and the youth teams were frequent as everyone wanted to select him. In a single year, Patson represented every single age group, including the senior team.
At the end of 2017, he scooped a brace of awards – the CAF Youth Player of the Year and Zambia Sportsman of the Year – as his stock continued to climb in Africa.
Today, Daka has 25 international caps to his name and seven goals, most recently a brace in Africa Cup of Nations qualifying against Zimbabwe in March 2021.
What’s his scoring record in Austria?
With Norway striker Erling Haaland being linked with moves away in the summer of 2019, Red Bull Salzburg had to prepare to lose their star player and chief goal-getter.
Daka, though, was already at the club and had netted six goals in 2018/19 despite being limited to cameo appearances from the bench for much of his early time in Salzburg.
Although Haaland wouldn’t leave until January, manager Jesse Marsch elected to promote Daka to his starting XI at the start of the campaign and Die Roten Bullen didn’t look back.
With Patson now an established member of the starting line-up, Salzburg won their opening seven games, while their Zambian frontman found the net four times.
A debut in the UEFA Champions League came in September as Salzburg defeated Genk 6-2 at Red Bull Arena, and Daka also starred twice in group stage fixtures, home and away, against Liverpool. His opener in November helped seal a 4-1 win in Genk too and made him the first man from Zambia to ever find the net in European football’s platinum club competition.
A hat-tricks of hat-tricks – against Altach, Mattersburg and Hartberg – further underlined his importance to Salzburg, especially after Haaland’s switch to Borussia Dortmund.
Austrian Bundesliga and Austrian Cup honours followed, with Daka scoring 27 goals in all competitions – a tally which he would improve upon again in 2020/21.
He was now the main man in Salzburg and his swashbuckling style of play and acrobatic goal celebrations were making headlines across the continent.
A goal in the opening day 3-1 win at Wolfsberger set the tone as another two hat-tricks added more stardust to Patson’s reputation. In all, he found the net 34 times last season, helping his team yet again defend their Austrian Bundesliga and Austrian Cup crowns.
Daka, too, was later awarded the Austrian Bundesliga Player of the Season and finished nine goals above team-mate Sékou Koïta in the race for the division’s Golden Boot.
What did he say after signing for Leicester?
Speaking to LCFC TV earlier this week, Daka said: “To the Leicester City fans, I’m so excited to be a part of this great club. I have received thousands of messages already from the fans.
“I’m just so excited to know that I have got fans behind me who have got so much love and to know they are willing to support me, as well as the Club.
“I will give my best for the Club each and every day and I’m really looking forward to seeing them inside the stadium.”