Red Bull Salzburg are set to undergo yet another metamorphosis, but what can we expect after Marsch and Daka? And who are the new stars to watch?
Half of Jesse Marsch’s face was smiling, the other was welling up with tears.
On the closing Saturday of the season, a small section of fans at the Red Bull Arena gave a final auf wiedersehen to their beloved American coach.
As Marsch stood on the side-lines and his team of young stars serenaded the crowd, the series finale mood resembled a coming of age story where the protagonist had completed their hero’s journey and returned to their point of origin.
A chapter well and truly closed.
Without Marsch, the Salzburg next season will be an entirely different team.
The Austrian giants are no stranger to metamorphosis. The club perpetually molts, morphs into a chrysalis and sheds a new face and identity almost every year.
From Roger Schmidt, to Adi Hutter and Marco Rose.
Each era, like Marsch’s face, heralds two diverging emotions. Sorrow and joy.
First it is the sad farewell of players and coaches.
Marsch has already been joined by Ramalho, Patson Daka and Enock Mwepu on his way out of the club, and more could still follow.
But the sorrow of those departed is alleviated by the emergence of yet another bunch of superstars to be, just as exciting and just as hungry as their predecessors.
The new Red Bull Salzburg
In the space of a year Matthias Jaissle has gone from U18 coach to first team manager within the Red Bull Salzburg system – gaining rapid successive promotions in January and June.
Back in January, Jaissle replaced Bo Svensson as Liefering’s manager after the latter became the head-coach of Mainz in the Bundesliga.
Jaissle took over from Svensson in January, with Liefering sitting in second position. In the end his young team came inches from lifting the title finishing level on points with eventual winners FC Blau-Weiß Linz.
Under Svensson Liefering scored 27 goals in 13 games averaging 2.07 goals per game. Jaissle managed to better those metrics. His Salzburg side scored a whopping 42 goals in 17 games averaging 2.47 goals per game.
The former Hoffenheim player in typical Salzburg fashion has managed to implement rapid free-flowing football that is easy on the eye.
At 33, Jaissle is 14 years younger than Marsch, but he has proven himself to be a smart astute quick-climber.
Undoubtedly, one of his most impressive feats has been forming the early career of Benjamin Sesko who is quickly becoming Red Bull’s worst kept secret.
The Slovenian striker netted 18 times and registered 3 assists under Jaissle in just 17 games at Liefering and with form like that, plus the need to replace Patson Daka, Sesko will no doubt be on the periphery of the first team next season. Especially after netting a brace in the cup on just his second game for the club’s first team.
Under Jaissle fans of Salzburg should not see a significant divergence in terms of style. Both like to play with two forwards, one more of a CF/number ten and the other and out-and-out striker running in behind defensive lines.
Wing play will usually be channelled by the full-backs in Jaissle’s system, with the German’s preference to play a diamond in midfield.
The likes of Aaronson who is more of an inverted winger and who likes to drift into central positions could thrive under this system.
The defence is compact and tight, and usually switches to a back three with the CDM dropping deep to allow the full-backs to roam forward.
With Salzburg stalwart Andre Ramalho joining PSV, Jérôme Onguéné likely to stay at Genoa, Salzburg’s defensive options may seem scarce next season.
However, the board have already acted fast in order to solve the impending crisis.
Salzburg secured the signing of hugely exciting Polish centre-back, Kamil Piatkowski, who was selected in Poland’s final squad for the European Championship and is already a full fledged international.
Piatkowski is the perfect Red Bull profile with impressive ball playing abilities and excellent at progressing the ball through runs forward.
He also has pace to burn and the physicality to bully his opponents. You can find out more about him here in our scouting report.
21-year-old Oumar Solet has a similar profile to Piatkowski, though the latter is definitely more of a progressive ball-playing defender.
Solet excels in more traditional defender traits. He averaged eight defensive duels per 90 last season in the Austrian Bundesliga and had a success rate of 69.2% which is fairly impressive and ranks him in the top five for players who averaged eight or more defensive duels per 90.
More experienced heads like, Maximilian Wober or Jérôme Onguéné may stick around but keep an eye out on Bryan Okoh and Colombian Lucho who are both highly rated at the club.
At left-back there is an impending need to replace the ageing, Andreas Ulmer. The club have already brought in Bernardo from Brighton but Malian JMG graduate Daouda Guindo could easily stake a role for himself next-season after featuring regularly in pre-season and catching the eye.
JMG Academy administrator, Mamadou Wad, described Guindo to FTF as someone “who has a magic left-foot, and always hungry for a good performance. Really good on free-kicks.”
Guindo is a good defender too and looked solid in Austria’s second tier last season averaging 5.58 interceptions per 90 according to Wyscout and winning 60.6% of his 8.22 defensive duels per 90.
The Malian follows a long line of JMG graduates at Salzburg from Haidara to Samassekou and he will have plenty of Malian contingent in the squad too including Mohamed Camara and Sekou Koita.
Exciting 16-year-old arrival Patrik Kovacs could also be a long-term successor to Ulmer in the role with the full-back highly rated in Hungary.
Right-back will likely remain the same with Albert Valci and Rasmus Kristensen vying for the role. Though it would not be surprising to see interest shown for the latter who has performed well over the last few seasons.
Do not bat an eyelid either if new addition Nicolas Capaldo fills in there too. The 22-year-old who was brought in from Boca Juniors has played as a wing-back and an RB in the past and is comfortable in the role.
On the subject of Capaldo, Red Bull Salzburg have landed an extremely talented individual who has been a regular for Argentina’s U23 side since 2019.
His versatility will allow him to play in a number of roles including as a midfielder. Capaldo is a good dribbler, he reads the game well and has the energy to press and roam all over the field.
He’s already scored his first goal for the club in pre-season and he is one who could have a big role to play in Salzburg’s metamorphosis after Marsch.
Mohamed Camara is expected to stay and retaining him could be a vital move by Salzburg as the Malian is excellent at anchoring the midfield to free-up more creative outlets.
Of which there are plenty in Salzburg’s current set-up.
Replacing someone of Mwepu’s ilk will be difficult. The Zambian’s energy and ability to instigate as well as cut-out attacks was the beating heart of Salzburg’s midfield.
However, highly rated Croatian midfielder Luka Sucic may have what it takes.
Sucic was impressive in Salzburg’s 2019/20 UEFA Youth Champions League campaign scoring six goals and registering two assists in 10 appearances during Salzburg’s march to the semi-finals. He had a good record for Liefering too scoring six times and handing out eight assists in 26 matches.
He’s already been integrated into the first team under Marsch last season playing 15 matches in Austria’s top flight and has already scored his first goal for the club.
Similar to Mwepu, Sucic is excellent at making intelligent passes at decisive moments. Last season he ranked seventh for smart passes in Austria’s Bundesliga with the Croatian averaging 1.1 smart passes per 90, only four places below Mwepu who averaged 1.33 per 90. Sucic also averaged 6.05 progressive passes per 90 (Mwepu averaged 8 per 90) via Wyscout.
And he’s shown to be similarly effective to Mwepu in terms of his defensive output. Sucic made 8.71 PAdj interceptions per 90 compared to Mwepu’s 8.78, meanwhile he had a defensive duel success rate of 62% whereas Mwepu only had a 58.47% success rate. Granted Mwepu (7.63) averaged just over two more defensive duels per 90 than Sucic (5.5).
Alongside Sucic, 18-year-old Maurits Kjærgaard will likely also feature regularly next-season.
The Dane is a similarly exciting box-to-box midfielder in the mould of Mwepu who racked up 13 assists and registered five goals for Liefering in 41 matches and has already debuted for Salzburg’s first team.
Kjærgaard is a technically gifted player who can make marauding runs forward from midfield. He averaged 2.89 progressive runs per 90 for Liefering last season.
In terms of attacking midfielders there are high hopes for Brenden Aaronson who enjoyed a solid first six-months at the club and has looked sharp again in pre-season scoring a well timed goal against Ligue 1 opposition Monaco.
The US international has become an adequate replacement for Dominik Szoboszlai and he will only improve in his five goals and five assist return from his first 20 matches for Salzburg.
Noah Okafor will feature on the other flank for Salzburg, who still has a bit to prove and has been inconsistent at the club so far.
Karim Ademeyi could also play in the role but with the injury to Sekou Koita, the German youth international will likely feature in more central roles.
Keep an eye-out on Nene Dorgeles who scored in pre-season for Salzburg’s first team and Ghanaian Forson Amankwah who featured during pre-season too and had four goals and three assists in ten games for Liefering during his first six months in Austria in just 523 minutes of action.
When Salzburg lost their goal-machine Erling Haaland, they replaced him with Patson Daka.
Now it’s the Zambian’s time to make the step-up and he will be hoping to follow the Norwegian’s footsteps.
He leaves a big void behind him, but Salzburg are well prepared. Sekou Koita would have been the natural replacement but the Malian is side-lined for at least the next six-months.
Mergim Berisha could still leave, but he’s also another astute option.
Karim Adeyemi will likely lead the line. He featured 38 times (only 11 starts) for Salzburg’s first team last season and is now firmly embedded into the first team set-up.
His goal and assists per 90 average was a total of 1.24 scoring nine goals and registering 11 assists in just 1,248 minutes of action.
The German international possess the rapid speed perfectly suited to Salzburg’s model. He is good at running in behind defences, but his game intelligence is astute too.
Adeyemi is not just a finisher, he can bring the ball forward, link-up well with his teammates and create opportunities for others.
He’s already scored a couple of goals in pre-season and has featured regularly under Jaissle.
He has big shoes to fill in the departing Daka but if he continues his excellent goal-contribution record there will be absolutely no stopping the 19-year-old.
Benjamin Šeško who clocked a top speed faster than Kylian Mbappe last season will likely take on Adeyemi’s sporadic role in the first team. Though if Berisha’s departs, the Slovenian international could form a partnership alongside Adeyemi.
The pair of them have played 342 minutes together for Salzburg’s youth teams and shared two goal participations while showing a blossoming partnership.
In eight games where they played at least ten minutes together, the pair of them scored a total of ten goals together.
Sesko has already shown his value to the club in their first competitive game under Jaissle scoring a brace in a second half cameo against WSC Hertha Wels.
Another, fast talented and skilful forward, Chukwubuike Adamu is well worth a mention too.
The Austrian youth international of Nigerian descent spent last season on-loan in the Swiss Super League scoring six goals in 14 games (ten starts).
Adamu is a poacher who is good in the air and who has the intelligence to be able to find space in the box. He’s good at holding up the ball too and has pace to burn on the counter.
Last season he averaged 5.68 touches per 90 in the opposition’s penalty area according to Wyscout and this is where the 20-year-old comes alive. He is good at finding space to get a shot off averaging 3.04 shots per 90, but Adamu can create space for himself too with his quick feet that can cause devastating problems for the opposition.
He scored six goals in nine games for Salzburg in the UEFA Youth Champions League and 26 in 49 games for Liefering whilst also registering 11 assists in the process.
Adamu is definitely ready for the next-step and he will likely play a big role under Jaissle too.
Someone who will likely play the ‘Sesko role’ at Liefering last season is 17-year-old Luka Reischl who has been linked with the likes of Manchester City and is highly regarded.
He’s already made tentative steps in the club’s reserve side, and made seven starts (22 appearances) in Austria’s second tier last season scoring two goals and registering two assists in the process.
The Red Bull model will be churning again next season, and there will still be plenty to keep an eye on.
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