Dortmund, December 30: Borussia Dortmund emerged victorious in the Erling Haaland transfer saga as they confirmed his capture from Salzburg on Sunday, seemingly beating Manchester United, Juventus and other major clubs to the Norwegian.
The 19-year-old had emerged as a supreme talent this season with the Austrian champions, starring in their domestic Bundesliga and in the Champions League.
In all competitions, Norway international Haaland scored 28 goals in 22 matches this season prior to confirmation of his impending transfer.
He is the latest in an impressive line of young players developed and sold on by Salzburg, following on from Sadio Mane, Naby Keita, Amadou Haidara, Dayot Upamecano and Takumi Minamino, whose January move to Liverpool was also confirmed this month.
But who are the next potential stars on the Salzburg production line? We asked Austrian football expert Simon Clark…
OFFIZIELL: Erling #Haaland wechselt in die deutsche Bundesliga und unterschreibt beim @BVB einen Vertrag bis zum Sommer 2024. DANKE für alles, Erling, und alles Gute in Dortmund! #EinerVonUns #MadeinSalzburg pic.twitter.com/FZUVaLcrru— FC Red Bull Salzburg (@RedBullSalzburg) December 29, 2019
Patson Daka, 21 - Forward
With Haaland's scoring prowess no long something Salzburg can rely on, there will be added onus on Daka – luckily, the 21-year-old Zambian is already in electric form with 14 goals in 17 league games.
"He's fast and strong and has excellent movement off the ball, with late runs into the box his forte," Clark told Omnisport. "He can also play off the shoulder of the last defender and beat them for pace in one-on-one battles. He might need some improvement finishing-wise, but in this Salzburg team chances are aplenty."
Karim Adeyemi, 17 - Forward
Everything points to Adeyemi making Salzburg a significant amount of money in the future. Having slipped through the net at Bayern Munich – reportedly owing to punctuality issues – he found his way to Salzburg via Unterhaching in 2018, apparently costing almost €3.5million as a 16-year-old.
"He's not even made a competitive appearance for the Salzburg first team, but has been linked with Barcelona," Clark commented. In fact, reports even claimed Barca had a €15m bid rejected for Adeyemi. "He's already among the top three highest-valued players in the Salzburg set-up."
Currently impressing on loan in the second tier, Adeyemi is well on track to become the next 'generational talent' to come through Salzburg's system.
Antoine Bernede, 20 - Midfielder
It was seen as a coup when Salzburg signed Bernede – then 19 – from Paris Saint-Germain in February, having emerged as one of their more promising youngsters. Although injury curtailed him earlier this season, the French midfielder has significant potential.
"In my opinion, Bernede was one of Salzburg's best players in the early part of the season before a terrible tibia fracture against LASK in September," Clark surmised. "He orchestrated the Salzburg midfield and was utterly sensational in the first Champions League match against Genk. He's an engine in midfield, has excellent positional awareness and breaks up attacks very well. [Coach Jesse] Marsch uses him as the deep-lying midfielder, and often kickstarts attacks with cross-field passes."
Dominik Szoboszlai, 19 - Midfielder
Arguably the most recognisable player on the list given his previous strong links with RB Leipzig and Arsenal, among others, Hungary international Szoboszlai is now Salzburg's most valuable asset.
"He has an astonishingly good right foot and can score David Beckham-esque free-kicks, play cross-field passes with distinction and pings balls in the box with ferocity," Clark said. "However, he can sometimes get lost, doesn't track back and is afraid to get stuck in. He's an immense – and mercurial – talent, but I feel like he doesn't 'fit' the Jesse Marsch system as well as other players do."
But at 19, he still has plenty of time on his side.
Enock Mwepu, 21 - Midfielder
Coach Marsch's all-action, pressing style of play requires real work ethic in midfield. Given the popularity for such systems in modern football, Mwepu may well become a sought-after commodity.
"He's the perfect player for Marsch's set-up," Clark says. "He's superb at winning loose balls and finds himself in the right position to break up possession, but he's also got a great range of passing. He's taken his chance after Bernede's serious injury and he was one of the standout performers against Liverpool at Anfield, showing he can impress on the biggest stage. I think he'll go on to play for one of Europe's top sides."
Sekou Koita, 20 - Forward
Like Daka, Koita will be expected to ease the exits of Haaland and Minamino, given their goal-scoring exploits. Although his season has been impacted by an abdominal injury, the 20-year-old Malian has still managed to get six goals in 10 appearances at an average of one every 82 minutes.
"He impressed in the Under-20 World Cup, but maybe now will have some proper playing time in Marsch's squad. A slightly smaller physique [than Haaland and Daka], but Koita has pace in abundance to terrify defences, great awareness, quick decision-making, precise finishing and he can play anywhere up front." Clark expects him to become a "star".