Just like the Hydra that fought Hercules – it seems when you cut off one head at Red Bull Salzburg, a couple more grow back in its place.
The club have already lost Erling Haaland to Dortmund in recent years, while forward Patson Daka became the latest star to depart this summer, but the Austrian outfit already have a new hero to worship in Karim Adeyemi.
The 19-year-old forward began his professional career with Salzburg but spent two years with second-tier side Liefering on loan, before returning to hit nine goals from 38 games in his first full season back with Salzburg.
Red Bull Salzburg striker Karim Adeyemi is confirming himself as one of the hottest prospects
After just 14 matches in the current campaign, he has already bettered that total with ten strikes – sending fans into a frenzy and inevitably resulting in links to some of the biggest clubs in Europe – including Liverpool and former club Bayern Munich.
The Austrian league isn’t the toughest division out there, granted, but Adeyemi is generating some serious excitement after netting three goals in the Champions League this season – including a brace against Lille this week – and also netted on his Germany debut in a 6-0 win over Armenia last month.
Sportsmail takes a closer look at the teenage ‘wonderkid’ and analyses his best qualities and journey as a footballer so far.
The teenage forward already has ten goals to his name this season and is garnering interest
He made his Germany debut last month and scored in a 6-0 romp against Armenia
WHO IS KARIM ADEYEMI?
Born in Germany, Adeyemi grew up in Munich and initially joined local side Forstenried before – surprise, surprise – he was taken on by the biggest club in the city, Bayern, where he was delighted at the prospect of one day rubbing shoulders with his idol Arjen Robben.
‘Since I’m from Munich and Bayern is the best club in the city, it used to be my favourite club,’ he said last year. ‘I was really happy to get the chance to play with the best young players in Munich. My idol has always been Arjen Robben. The way he went one-on-one and his precise shots on goal impressed me.’
He joined the Bavarian giants at the age of eight in 2010, but his development lasted two years as he was let go after concerns over his attitude, something he has dismissed to this day – and ultimately feels the two parties simply didn’t work as a unit.
Adeyemi was taken on by Salzburg aged 16 after being let go by Bayern Munich as a child
He idolised Arjen Robben but was released after concerns from the Germans about his attitude
‘At Bayern it quickly became clear that there was a precise plan. If you, as a player, stepped out of line or did not stick to this plan, you usually received little support,’ he admitted.
‘It remains to be seen whether they [Bayern] felt I had a lack of discipline. I don’t think that was the decisive factor. It just didn’t fit with Bayern anymore. We didn’t get along so well anymore. The relationship between my parents and the sports director at the time was no longer as it should be.’
Shortly after, he joined another Munich outfit in SpVgg Unterhaching to continue his development as a player, before Salzburg came calling in 2018.
He made a quick impact in his first season at the age of just 16 – netting six times – before the club decided to send him off to Liefering for some more experience.
WHAT HAS HE GOT?
The first thing to note is his tricky footwork. Adeyemi has the ability to receive the ball under pressure and take it past a handful of players in dangerous areas, using both feet to feint movements and then get his shots off quickly.
That two-footed nature makes his particularly dangerous and he can also use it to run down the channels and clip in crosses from either flank. His unselfish nature saw him lay on 11 assists last season, in addition to his nine strikes.
He has gone from strength to strength in Austria – his tricky footwork separates him from other players and allows him to burst clear and score goals
It goes without saying he is a quality finisher – and his pace allows him to break away from defenders – often drawing fouls – and he enjoys bursting forwards and playing a quick pass to allow him to get into a better position and cause problems.
Skilful, agile and capable of invention, no defender will want to be going up against him when he’s on song. Give him the time and space and he’ll be able to flick balls over the top and take players on.
WHERE CAN HE IMPROVE?
Physically he is somewhat disadvantaged, standing at 5ft 7in, meaning he will struggle in the aerial duels – so he must find ways around that problem and cannot always rely on skill alone, especially if he moves to one of the big leagues.
In a handful of situations he has been guilty of overthinking situations – getting into promising positions but overthinking the chance and watching it go begging, or rushing an effort by shooting too early.
Salzburg are a good passing team and play with a lot of togetherness – but sometimes Adeyemi will get into a 1v1 situation or race into the clear and pass to a team-mate instead of applying the finish. His selflessness is a great attribute but if he gets a sight of goal he should be ruthless and pull the trigger.
He is diminutive at 5ft 7in and naturally struggles with physical battles but can work on an alternate strategy to win duels
It seems as though Liverpool have been leading the pursuit of this talent for years, and made enquiries about him as early as 2018, when he was still plying his trade as a youth star with SpVgg Unterhaching.
The Reds have continued to monitor his progress throughout the years as he has flourished with Salzburg, but they are said to have been rivalled in their chase by Barcelona and Arsenal – while Chelsea and Manchester City have also shown interest in the striker.
Working under fellow German Jurgen Klopp would appear to be a perfect fit for Adeyemi, who would join former team-mate Takumi Minamino at Anfield, with Liverpool crying out for a new centre forward who can play alongside Mo Salah and Sadio Mane, who are formally wingers but have been forced to carry the team’s goal threat in recent years. And Roberto Firmino isn’t getting any younger at 29.
Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp has reportedly been tracking his compatriot for some time with Roberto Firmino (L) heading into his thirties
Bayern are said to be eyeing a return for Adeyemi, while Barca are also thought to be circling
Last month they reportedly joined the race of three teams in the running for his signature, including Barca and Bayern Munich – the club that let him go.
Salzburg are thought to be demanding at least £17m for their star forward after losing Haaland to Dortmund in 2020 and Daka to Leicester this summer.
Manfred Sachwable, former president of Adeyemi’s former side Unterhaching admitted English clubs were keen on him even aged 16.
He told Goal: ‘When he was 16, some clubs from England wanted to sign him. For example, some scouts from Chelsea came, but I don’t know if that would have worked out.
‘You should never take two steps at once. Salzburg is a good station for him, but also a club that doesn’t put any obstacles in the way of young players with suitable offers. If he continues like this, I would say it will be interesting from the spring.’