In this series, we take a look at some of the most interesting young talents in the world of football. Next up is Molde FK’s 19-years-old striker David Datro Fofana.
As a youngster who had only just turned 18, and heavily scouted by several European clubs, David Datro Fofana signed for Molde on a free transfer in early 2021. He had been dubbed by the media ‘The Ivorian Mbappé’ and was acquired from the Academie de Foot Amadou Diallo, a club based in Abidjan which is the economic capital city of the Ivory Coast.
Expectations were very high for this young starlet, and they would increase even more after scoring on debut vs Hoffenheim in the last 16 of the UEFA Europa League. He started well at Molde with three impressive substitute appearances in that same competition. Everything was gearing up towards a breakthrough campaign in which there would surely be times he would rip the Eliteserien apart with his strong physical and technical attributes. Incredibly though, this never materialized.
Despite not suffering any major injuries, Fofana didn’t score a single Eliteserien goal in 2021 and was limited to just 304 minutes all season. Things have improved a lot for this player in 2022 where he has scored goals both domestically and in Europe. However, he is still an enigma of an attacker who sometimes looks like he could become a world-class talent, yet on other occasions totally flatters to deceive.
We must of course remember that Datro Fofana only turns 20 at the end of December this year. He is still very young, raw and has a lot to learn. In many ways, he has been unfortunate that he was hyped up so much and that expectations were extremely high. He has played the majority of his career at Molde in the center-forward role. He would probably be equally adept at playing on either wing. Still, Molde have employed a wing-backs system this season, so by default, he has been leading the line, occasionally as a shadow striker.
His physical attributes are excellent and a cornerstone of his success. Fofana has incredible pace and acceleration and an ability to outrun most of his opponents. He is not the tallest striker at 1.81 metres, but he does not lack strength and can be a physical mismatch for some defenders. He has natural flair, great balance, agility, and an elusiveness about him. Anyone in a one vs one battle with the Ivorian will be under serious pressure.
There is still a lot of work to be done regarding his finishing. He has an xG of 11.85 in the Eliteserien this season, second only behind the top goalscorer in the division Amahl Pellegrino. However, he has only converted that figure into 9 goals which is nearly an underachievement of 3 full goals. This is disappointing, although not disastrous. Fofana is a player who has obviously got into several strong goalscoring positions, which is a decent quality to possess.
At the time of writing, after 23 rounds he has had more shots than any other player in the league this season (60). A total of 48.3% of those shots have been on target which is not actually a bad rate. Only eight other players in the league have been more accurate with their shooting, it’s just that Fofana has had an unfortunate knack of not beating the keeper enough times. Some of his strengths include offensive duels, of which he has contested the 5th most out of anyone per 90 mins (19.53). With nearly a 36% win ratio, he ranks fairly well in that department. Fofana also has a 53% dribble success which is quite good for a striker.
The goal he scored vs Tromsø in early July is a great way of summing up the player overall, highlighting several strengths and weaknesses.
The issue of his poor finishing must indeed be addressed because in general many would consider it a weakness, in addition to his decision-making. He is a striker so natural greed will often occur anyway. He can’t be criticized too much for not passing the ball to other teammates because his job is to score goals.
The young Ivorian often finds himself one on one with the keeper in a central position, or on a very dangerous break situation where he only has to beat one other defender. Frustratingly, he often does the hard part, and it’s just the finish that lets him down. Whether it is a lack of composure, decision making, or technical finish which is the problem is up for debate. Looking at his shot chart from the last 12 months it is interesting that a lot of his attempts are very low, either centrally or in each corner. Fofana doesn’t seem to target a high or mid-to-high finish into the back of the net as much.
This is not a criticism as such, but perhaps an area where he is too predictable and gives the goalkeeper more of a chance to save. It is also worth noting that he hasn’t scored a single goal from outside of the penalty area, despite having 25 attempts. He is not expected to score from outside of the box but maybe it gives an insight into his decision making which sometimes is too greedy and he doesn’t make the percentage play.
The future is definitely bright for this young attacker. He has the physical and technical attributes required to potentially succeed in the top divisions of European football. We must remember he is still raw though and this is his first full season as a regular starter at Molde. He has a good record in European matches and the signs are that he can raise his game for the bigger stage, which is very encouraging. Once he develops the mental side of his game, including decision making then he could make for an extremely formidable striker. In addition, he could easily be re-trained as an attacking winger or an inside forward.
He only turns 20 in December so has plenty of time on his side. With Molde currently involved in the Europa Conference League then it gives him the ideal platform and potential shop window which can attract potential suitors. It feels like the next good step for him would be to move to a club with known strong attacking coaching which can help take his game to the next level. There have already been comparisons to Erling Braut Haaland. They are completely different types of players, but the Molde connection is still there, and the Norwegian club has a strong pedigree within the footballing community to produce top-class talent.
The eyes of the world are definitely on this young African wonderkid.