FC Salzburg are Europe’s top talent factory, so who is next to come through?

With a track record of bringing through such established stars as Erling Haaland, Dayot Upamecano, Dominik Szoboszlai, Naby Keita, Sadio Mane, Karim Adeyemi, Brenden Aaronson and Benjamin Sesko, Austrian side FC Salzburg’s turnover of talent seems to be endless.

The club, who have a partnership under the Red Bull umbrella with German giants RB Leipzig, have made almost €500 million from player exits since 2018-19, according to Transfermarkt. Indeed, over the past five years, Salzburg have shown a net transfer profit of €272m — although, it should be noted that “intra network” transfers to Leipzig count for five players in that period. And when you consider that their record incoming transfer is only €13m, you can see how well the club is run.

Salzburg are considered one of the best in Europe at developing young players and are attracting plenty of plaudits for their ability to do so year after year. But who are the next in line to emerge from one of the most notorious talent-producing clubs in European football?

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Usually tucked in behind the forwards in Salzburg’s typical 4-3-1-2 formation, rendering himself elusive for opponents as he picks his spots between the lines, the Israel international is a superb playmaker with a subtle touch and smart positional skills.

Though he can still improve in the defensive side of the game, Gloukh’s ability to beat opponents with the ball (he averages around three successful dribbles per 90 minutes) and innate creativity (four league assists this season) make him hard to read and he offers the team an edge when playing against a low block.

Scoring in Champions League games against Benfica and Inter Milan showed some early evidence that he’s ready to make an impact in an even stronger league.

Konaté recently picked up the 2024 Africa Cup of Nations title with the Ivory Coast, though he didn’t start a game and was not involved at all beyond the group stage. However, he started his domestic season in promising fashion with eight goals before the turn of the year.

The striker represents a significant goal threat and is allowed a free roaming role up front. With plenty of pace, he is smart at timing his runs off the shoulders of defenders and is tough to pick up. While he strikes the ball particularly well with his right foot, don’t be surprised to see him have a shot with his weaker foot too.

Having arrived for a club-record fee of €13m from Ligue 2 side Saint-Etienne last summer, the defensive midfielder has enjoyed a fine start to his Salzburg career.

Not only did the 20-year-old cement a starting spot in midfield from day one, but he’s also deputised successfully as a centre-back and been rewarded with a France U21 call-up.

A tireless, hard worker in midfield, Gourna-Doutah is another player from French football who gets around the pitch and always seems to pop up near the ball, intercepting passes and closing down his opponents. Another fine feature of the midfielder’s game is his long-passing skills, often picking out the runs of his teammates with balls over the top.

Given his 6-foot-3 frame, one might think that Salzburg are shaping the Croatia U21 international into the same mould as Haaland or Sesko.

Simic is the son of the ex-AC Milan defender Dario and his physicality makes him a natural target to play the ball into, while he’s good at using his body to outmuscle defenders, or even pin his marker as he turns away. And, much like Sesko, his speed is also impressive once he hits his stride.

Perhaps expectations were too high following his 19-goal spell on loan at FC Liefering (Salzburg’s development team in the Austrian second tier) last season, but with such a complete No. 9 profile, his breakthrough could happen at any moment. He has not hit the net since October (14 games without a goal; four in total this season), but has enough potential to suggest he could come good soon.

The Bosnia and Herzegovina international has been in superb form over the past two seasons. So much so, that he’s recently been linked with a move to every big European club in need of a cover or an upgrade at right-back: Barcelona, Chelsea and Manchester United to mention a few.

Dedic’s main strengths come from his relentless attacking presence. He can create chances via an overlap or his substantial goal threat from mid-range shooting, while he has the useful ability to play with either foot and he is a good crosser (2.54 per 90 minutes this season). He also has excellent pace, which he can use to attack the space in behind and take on opponents effectively from a standing position.

Yet he’s capable in the defensive phase of the game too, winning just over half of his defensive duels, which is respectable for an attack-minded full-back.

Some other exciting FC Salzburg prospects:

Maurits Kjaergaard, 21, CM

The elegant, left-footed, 6-foot-4 midfielder — who usually features as a No. 8, but is equally capable of deputising as a wing-back — is surely destined for a move to an elite European club soon. Blessed with fine vision, technique and the ability to deliver precise set-pieces, the Denmark U21 international often uses his strong upper body to drift past opponents in midfield.

Petar Ratkov, 20, CF

Another 6-foot-4 centre-forward in the same mould as Sesko and Simic, Serbia star Ratkov has recently been given a successful run — two goals from the past three league outings — in the team as Simic’s goals have dried up.

Samson Baidoo, 19, CB

The athletic Austria centre-back is having his breakthrough season. Calm in possession and dominant in the air, he really stands out with his strong positional skills.

Daouda Guindo, 21, LB

Another graduate from Salzburg’s Malian academy (the same as Amadou Haidara was), Guindo showed promise during his loan spell at Swiss side St. Gallen last season. Diligent in his defensive work (he wins around 60% of his defensive duels), the left-back crosses the ball particularly well and likes to test the goalkeeper with a shot from distance.

Luka Sucic, 21, CM

The playmaker enjoyed a breakout season two years ago as he scored nine league goals. Once likened in style to the legendary Luka Modric, the Croatia international may not have pushed on to the expected levels but he remains a hugely talented midfielder.

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