Who is Datro Fofana? Things to know about the Chelsea target


Molde’s reputation as a talent factory was boosted by the emergence of a certain Erling Haaland, and the next gem set for an expensive move to the big leagues looks to be Ivory Coast international David Datro Fofana.

Known as Foffa, the 19-year-old is the subject of intense talks with Chelsea, who have surged ahead of a number of Premier League rivals in the race for his signature.

Here’s all you need to know about him.

Born in December 2002 in the Ivory Coast, Fofana’s first club was Abidjan City, who loaned him to local side AFAD in 2019. It was there that he began to impress European scouts, with French and Belgium clubs chasing his signature.

A deal with Ligue 1’s Angers looked to have been struck before Fofana opted for a move to Molde in Norway, believing he would be afforded a better chance of developing there than in France.

After joining Molde, he even moved into the apartment once occupied by Haaland.

“It is symbolic,” he told TV2 of literally following in Haaland’s shadow. “You say to yourself, ‘We started at the same place’. Tomorrow, I will be like him. What a player.”

After a slow start to life with Molde, Fofana exploded during the 2022 season as he racked up 15 goals in 24 games before the World Cup break.

Internationally, Fofana was called up to the Ivory Coast senior setup in 2020 to help make up the numbers at the time, before returning to the squad and making his debut in 2022.

Fofana has never hidden his desire to play in the Premier League, admitting that he would leave Molde in a heartbeat if the offer arrived.

“My favourite league is the English one,” he said. “I want to go to the Premier League. If I get there, I’ll never leave. I have to end up there. If Molde can send me directly to England, that’s fine with me. I can adapt to anything. I will succeed there. Then it’s over.”

The Ivorian has even previously admitted his desire to play for Chelsea, even if he does not really know where his love for the Blues came from.

“I don’t know why, but I want to play for Chelsea,” he confessed, in English, to Molde’s in-house media. “It’s a very good team. It’s in my heart.”

Scouts have labelled Fofana as a well-rounded player who is capable of doing a little bit of everything – something he puts down to his childhood playing in the streets.

“I was shaped in the streets. I’m not like the others, not educated. I am not a product of the academies, everything comes from the streets,” he said. “Street football has a bit of everything: technique, physicality and finishing, because you play with tiny goals. You have to be very accurate to score.”

That accuracy is a notable part of his game as Fofana, who takes a high volume of shots, regularly challenges goalkeepers with his precise finishing and is just as confident on his weaker left foot as he is on his right.

What you’ll also see from Fofana is an ability to create his own shots. While he loves beating the last man to latch on to a pass, the Ivorian is a true joy to watch when he is running at defenders with the ball at his feet, happy to search for space in which to get off a shot.

There are no blaring weaknesses in Fofana’s game – at least none that cannot be linked to youth and inexperience.

One criticism of Fofana is his poor off-ball awareness as he has been known to run into a cul-de-sac or fail to track the position of a defender before making his move, but there is reason to believe these kinks would be ironed out with age.

Physically, Fofana does not excel in any attribute but is instead above-average in all aspects. He’s not lightning fast or terrifyingly strong, but what Fofana does boast is a high knowledge of how to maximise his skills and compensate for any shortcomings on the pitch.

Happy to set high goals for himself, Fofana openly admits that he attempts to base every aspect of his game on some of the best to ever perfect those skills.

“When it comes to dribbling, I look at Ronaldinho and the old Ronaldo,” he explained. “When it comes to scoring, it’s Cristiano Ronaldo – his headers, how he positions himself in the box.

“When it comes to changes in direction, it’s Lionel Messi – how he plays his moves. When it comes to using physicality, it’s Zlatan Ibrahimovic. I watch how he holds off defenders with his body.”

Such is his varied playstyle that comparisons, however farfetched, have ranged from Messi and Diego Maradona to the Brazilian Ronaldo.

“It’s good to be compared to such a great player,” Fofana admitted of comparisons to Ronaldo specifically. “But that doesn’t mean I settle for it. I’ve been compared to El Fenomeno, but I want to be even better than Ronaldo was.

“I will do what I can to be at least as good as Ronaldo. I know the comparisons are a bit of nonsense, but it’s a motivation for me. It makes me work even harder.”




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mrB

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