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The Alpine Mbappe

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Red Bull Salzburg and young talents. It’s a love story that football fans have seen many times in recent years. From Borussia Dortmund star Karim Adeyemi to Manchester City’s Erling Haaland, many players have come out of the Austrian club. Even the current team boasts of talents such as the midfield genius Luka Sucic or the sensational Slovenian striker Benjamin Sesko. However, another player quickly becoming a fan favourite is Swiss forward Noah Okafor.

Okafor is a youth product of Basel youth academy and has been touted as one of the best players for Switzerland. And in Red Bull Salzburg, Okafor has the perfect environment a young player requires to take his talent to the next level. However, with many top teams looking for new strikers in the summer, Okafor could find himself in a transfer battle between multiple clubs.

So, who is Noah Okafor, and how good is he?

How good is Noah Okafor?

Noah Okafor was born on May 24, 2020, in Binningen, a municipality in the district of Arlesheim situated in the Canton of Basel-Landschaft in northern Switzerland. Okafor’s father is of Igbo descent from Nigeria, while his mother is Swiss. The player joined FC Arisdorf, which was a local club. 

However, in 2009, he made the big move to Basel, one of the most successful clubs in Europe. Joining the club as a nine-year-old, Okafor shone through the youth teams. Over the next nine years, he would rise through the ranks, becoming one of the best youth prospects that the club had seen in years.

In the 2016-17 season, he would be promoted to the under-18s making his debut on August 13, 2016, against Aarau. He would go on to make 16 appearances in the league, two appearances each in the Swiss U18 Elite Finals, Schweizer Cup U-18, and Swiss U17 Elite League. Okafor ended the season with three goals to his name.

By the following season, he would bring his best to the under-18s scoring eight goals in 12 games in the league and two strikes to his name in the UEFA Youth League. These performances caught the eyes of then manager Raphael Wicky who called him to the squad in January 2018. His senior-team debut would come five months later as he played 56 minutes of Basel’s last league match of the 2017-18 season.

And when the next season started, Okafor was permanently promoted to the senior squad. Over the next one-and-a-half seasons, Okafor would play 56 matches for the team scoring 12 goals and providing six assists.

This caught the interest of Red Bull Salzburg, who swooped to sign him in January 2020. His debut would come a month later, on February 9, 2020, against SKU Amstetten in the Austrian Cup. Okafor would end the season with 14 appearances for Salzburg, scoring four goals and providing one assist.

Noah Okafor stats 

Okafor had shown flashes of brilliance in his first six months in Austria. However, Okafor, after a pre-season under his belt, went to a different level. Playing 18 games, Okafor scored six goals and provided four assists. Even more impressive, this tally came in only 896 minutes, meaning he averages one goal contribution every match on average. Okafor would also get the taste of playing in the Champions League, making four appearances.

Even after an impressive season, Okafor was far more getting a starting role at the club. The reason being the club had outstanding strikers such as Karim Adeyemi and Benjamin Sesko. Okafor also faced competition from another brilliant youth prospect, the brilliant Roko Simic.

However, despite the limited time, Okafor bettered his tally from the previous season scoring nine goals and providing nine assists in just 949 minutes in the league. Okafor would also open his tally in the Champions League with a brace against Wolfsburg.

These brilliant performances, coupled with the departure of Adeyemi to Borussia Dortmund, meant Okafor got more minutes on the pitch. And the striker has repaid the faith in kind, scoring seven goals and providing three assists in 19 matches in the league. The youngster also scored three goals in the UEFA Champions League.

His brilliance can also be gauged by the fact that he has a massive shooting accuracy of 50 per cent, according to fbref. Okafor has also averaged 2.68 progressive carries per 90 minutes, among the top ten percentile of strikers.

Okafor also does not shy from using his skill to try the audacious, as is evident from his 3.81 take-ons per match among the top five percentile of forwards.

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Noah Okafor scout report 

Noah Okafor is a player that possesses brilliant vision and intelligence. This is evident by the fact that he has not been caught offside this season in the league, according to stats from fbref. And this intelligent movement is the reason why he is always at the right place at the right time to slot the ball into the goal.

Okafor does have incredible pace, but he uses it smartly by combining it with his intelligent off-the-ball movements, which makes it very hard for the opposition to track him. This strategy also conserves much of his energy late into the match, which means he can still be quite pacey even during the final minutes of a game.

The striker also loves to play the majority of his game in the inside left channel because it allows him to cut back inside and get the ball on his strong foot. Another reason for him to drift away from the goal is to get into more one-on-one situations, either with the right-back or the right centre-back, where he can use his dribbling skills to get past the player.

Noah Okafor transfer news 

Red Bull Salzburg are a club that have built their reputation on poaching young talent before selling them off at enormous prices to other clubs. And Noah Okafor perfectly fits the bill, and with the performance he has delivered, big clubs are already starting to circle around.

Among them, Arsenal have expressed the most interest. However, the injury of Gabriel Jesus exposed the squad depth of the club, and despite an impressive performance from Eddie Nketiah, Mikel Arteta will want to bolster his squad for the next season when they will indeed challenge for multiple trophies. 

Salzburg, though, would want to keep the player for another season, given the interest that is being generated by their starting striker Benjamin Sesko who is bound to leave the club in the summer.

However, the summer transfer window is yet to open. Till then, Okafor’s main aim will be to continue his impressive performance for the club and become the latest product from the Red Bull Salzburg youth production line.

Saumy Deepak Tripathi
A Bayern Munich fan who is deeply in love with football statistics. Has a soft spot for goalkeepers! (well only he knows why). You’ll find him vibing on 70’s classic songs and spends an abnormal amount of time cooking.

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