It’s new year’s eve, that time where everyone set themselves new objectives to achieve for the upcoming year. For most, these resolutions won’t be sustained for more than a week, but for those who will persist but are in limbo as to what to do, I recommend compiling a list of talents to watch out for in 2019 and see how the year pans out for them.
In this instance, Red Bull Hub will be highlighting five Liefering prospects that could just be the next in line to emulate the footsteps of Amadou Haidara, Xaver Schlager, and Hannes Wolf into the Red Bull Salzburg limelight or onto bigger and better things.
It has been a largely disappointing first half of the season which has seen Liefering go from hovering around the summit after two wins out of two at the start to plummeting to mid-table mediocrity following six defeats in their last seven matches before the winter break. Regardless, there has been a couple of shining lights that have made the Friday nights spent watching them worthwhile.
Before I delve into the list, I wanted to make it clear that the reason behind not including the likes of Dominik Szoboszlai, Romano Schmid, and Mahamadou Dembélé is because they are already making strides into the first-team picture and I wanted to highlight some of the more obscure prospects under contract in Salzburg. With that in mind, let’s begin!
1. Ousmane Diakité (18)
Signed from Yeleen Olympique in his homeland, Mali, in August, Diakité has quickly adapted to his new life in Austria and has made it clear to the 2. Liga that he is a force to be reckoned with; doing so with an impressive performance in his debut against Horn. Although he has been frequently used at the summit of the midfield diamond, where he has showcased a plethora of passes and even scored his maiden goal with a volley against Lafnitz, his future is destined to be at the foot of it. Standing at six feet, two inches, he is an imposing presence in the air, winning a high percentage of aerial duels. With his long legs, he is able to make tackles and interceptions most can’t, cover ground promptly to nullify a threat, and when closing down, he spreads his body in order to cover the passing lanes and suffocate the man in possession.One day, whether it be in the near future or further down the line, there will be a Samassékou-shaped void that will need filling. Even though it will be a near-impossible task to replace the contribution of such an indispensable figure, the club could just have someone also discovered in Bamako already waiting in the pipeline for his chance.
2. Mohamed Camara (18)
The love-affair between Red Bull Salzburg and Malian talent continues to grow ever fonder and Mohamed Camara is another exemplification as to why. A strong, tenacious midfielder that is in constant search for possession. When on the ball, he maintains it so well with great body strength and balance to brush past opponents and drive forward. Although his short passing is an area that could be improved, his long passing is where he excels as he is able to pick out a team-mate from distance with a pin-point pass.
To add to his passing repertoire, Camara is capable of producing the extravagant, using his excellent awareness and skill to complete a pass on par with the one he produced against Blau-Weiß Linz – looping the ball over the defence with the outside of his foot from a distance. It isn’t just in offence where he thrives, he doesn’t shy away from putting a foot in at the other end, being a strong tackler of the ball and intercepts play well. Although, his desire to lunge into challenges often gets him into trouble as he has conceded a number of fouls and he even received a red card earlier in the year.
Subjectively speaking, Mohamed Camara has been Liefering’s standout performer this season and has become a personal favourite of mine. With it confirmed that Amadou Haidara will wear the number eight at RB Leipzig after the winter break, the 18-year-old could be the one to fill his compatriot’s boots in the near future.
3. Karim Adeyemi (16)
Released from Bayern Munich’s academy as a 10-year-old then signed from 3. Bundesliga club, Unterhatching, for an approximate €3 million plus add-ons this summer, Karim Adeyemi is reclimbing the proverbial ladder and is proving why he’s the most expensive German youth signing in history. Despite being ‘detained’ until matchday five before receiving clearance to play by FIFA, the 16-year-old hasn’t allowed it to prevent him from proving to be one of the most exciting players in the squad and, just maybe, one of the most promising in the Red Bull microcosm.
With a constant urge to drift out into a wide position, Adeyemi likes to isolate an opponent in a one-on-one situation where he can take him one with a clever piece of skill or bait them into thinking they have a chance before using his blistering acceleration to leave the defender in his dust. For a 16-year-old, his technique is exquisite and he uses to great effect, dropping deep to receive possession before finding a team-mate with an inventive pass. At 5’8″, he possesses the balance and low centre of gravity that allows him to weave past defenders with ease and into a dangerous position. For his frame, he has a deceitful strength about him that he uses to muscle off opponents and to maintain a stance between his marker and the ball.
I reject the notion of Red Bull’s metaphorical food chain that sees Salzburg’s talents aspire to move across the border, but after training with RB Leipzig last winter then linked with a move during the summer, I can envisage him returning to his homeland with the next half-a-decade should his development continue at a steady pace.
4. Anderson Niangbo (19)
An injury has forced him to watch from the sidelines since September, but that is no indication that you should take your eye off him next year. He’s not one of the standout names in Liefering’s squad, nor does he post an impressive record, having netted and assisted just twice in 20 matches since his move from USCB last January. However, it’s the silent work he does on the pitch that makes him a name worth noting. His style is reminiscent of Munas Dabbur, which makes him an ideal replacement should the Israeli be on the move in the upcoming windows. He loves to get on the ball, whether it be in a wide position or deep, to orchestrate play in the final third. In 15 appearance last season, Niangbo achieved a 96.8% short pass accuracy which exemplifies why he excels in combination and link-up play. Like Dabbur, he possesses the ability to use his close control and balance to manufacture space from seemingly near impossible positions and into threatening areas, but it’s in front of goal that lets him down as he often loses his composure and either drags his shot, blasts it high and wide or straight at the goalkeeper. Another thing to note is his work rate off the ball and willingness to the be the first line of defence.
5. Peter Pokorný (18)
Like Adeyemi, Peter Pokorný also had initial clearance issues upon his arrival from AS Trenčín in January, but in his instance, he was forced to wait on the sidelines for near six months before he was able to grace the pitch in a competitive match. Nevertheless, he has since cemented himself as an integral figure in Gerhard Struber’s line-up this season.
Sitting at the base of the diamond, Pokorný has an important role in Liefering’s overall build-up as he drops in between the centre-backs to receive the ball in the defensive third before distributing it forward. There is nothing spectacular about him in possession, he does the simple things with efficiency and it allows him to dictate the flow of the game. His role requires two vital components: composure and awareness, which he has in abundance, allowing the Slovakian to detect pressure and evade it without breaking a sweat.
Although he has primarily been used as a holding midfielder, I feel he has the credentials to become a decent centre-back. In accompaniment to his technical ability and mentality, he is strong, good in the air, and he is a tough tackler of the ball, rarely going to ground to retrieve possession.