A four-goal haul in a single match might be a once-in-a-career event for most players, but not for Patson Daka. Indeed, there was little over a year between the four goals he scored for Leicester City in Wednesday’s Europa League victory over Spartak Moscow and the four goals he scored for Red Bull Salzburg in an Austrian league game in September 2020.
This illustrates Daka’s natural capacity for finding the back of the net. While Erling Haaland might be considered the best goalscorer to have come through Red Bull Salzburg in recent years, his former Zambian teammate has also made a name for himself as one of Europe’s most promising young strikers.
And yet Wednesday’s performance in Moscow was the first time Daka has truly demonstrated his ability for Leicester City. The 23-year-old came off the bench to score the third goal in a 4-2 win over Manchester United at the weekend, but before now the glimpses of his potential have been sparse.
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We are now receiving more evidence as to why Leicester City’s capture of Daka was viewed as such a coup - other, bigger, Premier League clubs had been linked with the Zambian. The 23-year-old was always likely to be a good fit for Brendan Rodgers’ side and that is becoming increasingly apparent.
Many see Daka as the natural heir to Jamie Vardy, now in the twilight of his career. Both forwards like to play on the shoulder of the last defender and both have the pace to leave opposition defenders in their wake. There are also similarities in the way Daka and Vardy strike the ball so purely in front of goal.
That Daka performed so well alongside Kelechi Iheanacho as one half of a front two against Spartak Moscow only adds more evidence to this theory. Now 34 years old, Vardy can no longer play every minute of every match for the Foxes and so the addition of Daka means Rodgers doesn’t need to change his tactical game plan when rotating the pair.
“He's been one of my inspirations, I'm sure you can tell with my play style,” Daka said after the Europa League win in Russia, admitting the extent to which he models his game on that of Vardy who was given the night off on the bench. “I'm blessed to be in this position.”
Rodgers wasn’t so keen to draw the parallel between Daka and Vardy, but highlighted the qualities of the former and why Leicester City were so keen to add him to their squad this summer. “He was the profile of player we wanted to bring in, someone to be here for a number of years,” the Northern Irish coach said.
"His profile was someone who could run off the last man. He's a clever guy and he watches Jamie, but his talent is his talent. He finishes left foot, right foot and he has an enthusiasm for the game."
Premier League defences should be wary now that Daka looks to be settling in his new surroundings. While Leicester City have underwhelmed so far this season, they are a team that creates more goalscoring opportunities than most and they now have another forward to capitalise on them.
Vardy remains the player around which Leicester City revolve, but a few more performances like the one produced by Daka against Spartak Moscow could change this. Vardy is arguably the greatest player in the club’s history and he has plenty more to offer. Daka, however, symbolises Leicester City’s ambition to achieve even bigger and better things. Four goals in Russia should lead to many, many more.
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