In Focus: Cunning Daka primed to be Leicester's new Fox in the box
Patson Daka is off the mark for Leicester and the floodgates could be about to burst open.
The Zambian, 23, joined the Foxes for £23million in the summer but he had to wait until Saturday's 4-2 win over Manchester United to open his account.
In his two seasons as a starter for FC Salzburg, he scored 51 goals in 59 Austrian Bundesliga matches — and he arrived in England with a reputation as a penalty-box predator.
As Brendan Rodgers’ men prepare to face Spartak Moscow in the Europa League this afternoon, we examine why the explosive forward is ready to stake a claim for a starting berth.
A matter of time
Daka has featured in just 215 minutes across all competitions this season but has already racked up 12 shots in those five fixtures.
Leicester’s No29 has a knack for being in the right place at the right time and it was one of the reasons he was so prolific in Austria.
The 27-cap international’s game is all about how many efforts at goal he can muster.
Similar to the likes of Mohamed Salah and Cristiano Ronaldo, Daka plays the numbers game — realising that the more shots he has, the more likely it is that he will find the back of the net.
Looking at his shot map, you cannot say his first goal for the club had not been coming.
All but one of the Lusaka-born star’s efforts for Leicester have come from dangerous areas inside the penalty box, so it was perhaps only a matter of time before one found the back of the net.
Fox in the box
Foxes boss Rodgers singled out Daka for praise after the game against United.
He said: "Obviously bringing Patson [Daka] on, he wants to run in behind, he's a natural goalscorer.
"For him, he had a little chance inside the box, the keeper makes a save and then he's there, sniffing around the goal for the finish. So I'm very pleased for him."
The Leicester frontman made a habit out of that very thing while playing for FC Salzburg.
He has replicated it in his limited minutes for the Midlands-based side, with the majority of his touches arriving in the opposition’s penalty box, as highlighted by his heat map.
In short, Daka is destined to score goals.
The in-demand forward was never going to arrive at the King Power Stadium and be an immediate starter.
There is often a period of transition when a player moves to the Premier League.
And with no pressure on Rodgers to start his new man immediately, he has been able to ease Daka in.
The attacker needs to get up to speed with the rigours of English football, he needs to understand what his role in the Leicester system entails and also has to learn how his team-mates play.
This was not ever going to happen overnight and fans are unlikely to see the real Daka until next season.
Different yet similar
On paper, Daka, Jamie Vardy and Kelechi Iheanacho are not that similar.
For starters, Vardy is not a volume player. Over the last eight seasons, he has averaged just 2.41 shots per 90 minutes but makes the most of his limited opportunities.
Iheanacho is closer to Daka in terms of output and averages close to 3.5 shots per 90 across the last two campaigns.
But the Nigeria international likes to roam and pops up in the wide areas during the build-up, so he differs in that regard.
Despite the obvious differences, the trio are all exceptionally quick — they all like to run in behind and are a constant nuisance for defenders.
There is no reason why it will not be possible for Rodgers to rotate Leicester’s three striking options going forward.
Let loose in the Europa League
Leicester will want to go far in the Europa League, not least because it is an opportunity for them to bed in players and try out new things while resting key individuals for the Premier League.
This is likely to be the competition Daka is started in, at least until the turn of the year. It is a competition he could also run riot in.
The Europa League is essentially a knockout tournament from the off, such is the fiercely competitive nature of the group stage.
This means teams cannot sit back and look to claim a point — they have to get wins on the board.
As a result, there is space to attack and this is an ideal environment for Daka to make hay on the continent.