Karim Adeyemi: The jewel in the crown of a new German & RB Salzburg Era by Vuyo Ndebele
Dominant foot: left
Position(s): ST, LW, CF
Strengths: pace, dribbling, finishing, balance
Coming off a disappointing EURO 2020 campaign in the summer, which saw Germany succumb to a 2-0 loss to England in the last 16 of the competition and not so long ago catastrophically crash out in the group stage of the 2018 World Cup as reigning champions, questions have been asked about whether the development of talent in the country is at an all time low as veterans like Thomas Muller and Mats Hummels all made a U-turn on their retirement from the national team.
Even though youngsters like Ridle Baku, Florian Wirtz and Jamal Musiala have emerged in the last couple of seasons, with the latter two making their debuts for the senior side, Die Mannschaft’s recent major tournament showings have left a bitter taste along with a level of uncertainty that isn’t synonymous with German Football and culture in general. That concern may have recently been put to rest though, at least for now, as the DFB Junioren team convincingly won the EURO U-21 Championship.
Part of that triumphant side was Karim Adeyemi, who earned his first call up to the U21 setup at 19 years old; making three appearances on course to being crowned champions. Relatively unknown compared to some of the other starlets in the group, the forward is a rising star who plies his trade in Austria for the ambitious Red Bull Salzburg. With Patson Daka having departed the club (to Leicester) and Sekou Koïta sidelined due an serious injury, Adeyemi is set to have his big breakout season in 2021/22 and hopefully announce himself to the football world.
Born in Munich to a Nigerian father and Romanian mother, Karim started his youth career at the age of 8 at TSV Forstenried, playing there for two seasons before moving to European powerhouse Bayern Munich’s youth ranks where it all didn’t go according to plan, eventually being released by the club in 2012 after only a couple of years – at the tender age of 10 – amid a manifold of disagreements between the club and his family. Disciplinary issues unfortunately also played a part in his premature exit. Adeyemi soon found himself at SpVgg Unterhaching; at this point he truly started to standout as a player and matured as a person likewise in large part thanks of the clubs chairman, Manfred Schwabl.
Even though his journey to the professional level has been somewhat different to most, mainly because of his carefree attitude that hasn’t always been appreciated by most, Karim has now emerged as a promising player with a burning desire to succeed and it has probably done him a world of good to end up in Salzburg, (as they are known for trusting youth at the highest level, even permitted to play 16 year olds in senior football in contrast to other top European leagues that prohibit it) having fended off competition from Liverpool and Chelsea to name a few clubs who were chasing his signature. Under the strict guidance of Jesse Marsch in the last 18 months, Karim made tremendous strides towards reaching the potential he undoubtedly possesses.
STYLE OF PLAY
He is one of the most direct, intense and explosive attackers you’ll see on the come up in Europe; fitting perfectly into the Austrian Giants philosophy of high energy, pressing football. Not only can he run in behind defenders, but he also has the ability to offer a threat on the counter with his pace, turning defense into attack in the blink of an eye. Furthermore, the young gunman is blessed with deadly left foot and eye for goal, bagging 15 goals in 35 appearances during his loan spell at FC Leiferieng (2018-2020) and more recently 10 in 40 games so far for RB Salzburg. Opting to play on the left side of a front two, Karim often leaves opponents for dead with his devastating speed and nimble feet, leading from the front with both his ability to link up play alongside a second striker and willingness to press high up the pitch.
Other defining attributes that make him such a tricky player to mark are his balance and strength on the ball even though only being 5’10. This enables him to change direction at ease in tight spaces, oftentimes giving him enough space to manœuvre past a defender or shoot with minimal back lift. His passing also improved in the 2020/21 season, which saw him build on his 2 assists in 2019/20 to 7 last term. With a lot of maturing still to do on and off the pitch, the signs are promising for the talented attacker, making him an even more exciting prospect both at international and club level. He has started the 2021/22 campaign with intent, scoring four times so far and setting up one in the first two games of the season (A goal involvement every 31 minutes).
Rumor has it that Barcelona, Borussia Dortmund and even Bayern are keeping tabs on him. It would be no surprise to see him move to RB Leipzig in the near future following in the footsteps of the of Dominik Szoboszlai and Hwang Hee-Chan. If he can keep his form up consistently throughout the season, a move to one of Europe’s giants seems inevitable. Definitely another young star to keep your attention on this season.
Similar Player: Paulo Dybala (Juventus). Although he’s more explosive and direct.