LIVERPOOL: Szoboszlai will add dynamism and technical quality to Klopp’s midfield

Dominik Szoboszlai is the latest addition as regards to Liverpool’s midfield overhaul, joining Alexis Mac Allister in what has been a bumper summer window for the Reds.

With talk of interest gaining momentum over the past week, as has often been the case at Liverpool, they wasted very little time in finding their man.

The Hungarian midfielder had a £60m release clause at RB Leipzig which expired on Friday and Jurgen Klopp’s side agreed a deal in time to bring him to Anfield.

In a summer where Liverpool were priced out of a move for £88m Real Madrid signing Jude Bellingham, Arsenal look to sign Declan Rice for £105m and Mason Mount closing in on a £60m move to Manchester United – the fact that the Reds have landed Mac Allister and Szoboszlai for a combined £95m looks like an incredibly good piece of business.

The Reds had held an interest in Mount, but were put off by his price tag  given he only has one year left on his Chelsea deal. Mount is also set to earn £250,000-per-week once he completes his expected move to Manchester United, with Szoboszlai set to earn less than half of that figure.

Szoboszlai will be asked to add a different dimension to Jurgen Klopp’s midfield and the fact that he has been given their No 8 shirt – synonymous with Steven Gerrard – shows just how important a player the Reds feel he could be.

They will certainly hope his career path goes down the same way as Gerrard, compared to the last man who wore the shirt. Naby Keita made an identical move from the Bundesliga in 2018 but struggled with injuries and inconsistent form before his departure this summer.

Though he has spent his career playing in Austria and Germany, he is a name that English fans will be aware of.

As well as playing for RB Salzburg and Leipzig in the Champions League, he also starred in Hungary’s 4-0 win over England at the Molineux Stadium in June last year.

That scoreline came weeks after he scored the only goal against England from the penalty spot when the sides played in Budapest.

In Szoboszlai, Liverpool have hired a proper set piece specialist with the Hungarian converting 15 of his last 16 penalties – though he can expect a fight on his hands with Mohamed Salah for this particular role.

His free-kicks, long range goals and defence-splitting assists is something that very few players in his position possesses – with Kevin De Bruyne being the obvious poster star of these attributes.

Capable of playing in midfield or out-wide, the youngster’s versatility could provide a huge boost for the Reds in the 2023-24 season.

Trent Alexander-Arnold’s emergence in midfield points that Liverpool could persevere with a 3-2-2-3 formation at the start of the season.

In this formation, Szoboszlai and Mac Allister could form a partnership in behind the attack for Liverpool. From there the Hungarian would be able to look to score from midfield or release the ball to players in more advanced positions.

The Reds could though also look to play Szoboszlai as the No 10 in a 4-2-3-1 system where he plays ahead of the likes of Alexis Mac Allister, Fabinho, Jordan Henderson and Thiago.

However, the 3-2-2-3 could work well for the Hungarian who played 77 per cent of his games last season operating as a wide right attacking midfielder – fed by two deep-lying playmakers.

Julian Nagelsmann, his former manager at RB Leipzig, once said: “Dominik can play in a variety of positions.

“He can play in attacking midfield, as a left-sided attacker, or even out wide on the left wing. He can also do the same on the right. In Salzburg, he operated as a number 10 a lot and as a left-sided No 8.”

Of 63 players to attempt 50 or more crosses in the Bundesliga last season, Szoboszlai had the best cross success rate at 40.7 per cent – another argument towards playing him on the right of midfield.

But no matter where he plays he has a knack for scoring and creating goals – something which hasn’t been seen from a Reds midfielder since the days of Phillipe Coutinho (when he didn’t play out wide) or Adam Lallana.

Across his career, he has scored 64 goals in 226 appearances, registering 73 assists.  Last season, he netted ten goals for RB Leipzig – including in their DFB-Pokal final victory – while registering 13 assists.

Comparisons will be made to Mount this season, given their similarities in playing position and given Liverpool held an interest in the England international.

Mount is closing in on a move to Manchester United having previously been a Liverpool target
The Hungarian averaged 5.6 recoveries per 90 minutes compared to Mount’s 4.7, while he also created more chances at 2.7 compared to 1.7.

Szoboszlai also attempted 0.6 through balls per game and averaged 2 completed take-ons.

It should also be noted that Mount’s struggles last season coincided with Chelsea as a whole. The year prior, Mount scored 11 goals and registered ten assists in the Premier League.

In Szoboszlai they see a player who fits the profile of player they are looking for, with similarities to how he and Mount play the game.

Pursuing the Hungarian instead of the England international could prove to be a wise decision if he goes on to become the player all Liverpool fans would love to see. Though they would cost the same price tag, they are set to save a lot in terms of wages on Szoboszlai compared to Mount.

One big question however will be how quickly Szoboszlai can fit into the intensity of the Premier League. A lot of signings from the Bundesliga in recent years have struggled, while the likes of Darwin Nunez and Cody Gakpo took time to find their feet at Anfield.

After his signing, Klopp described the 22-year-old as a signing ‘for our present and also for our future’.

It shows that the German is wary Szoboszlai might not be the overnight answer and will take time to adapt.

But ever since RB Salzburg snapped him up at the age of 16 there have been signs that he has a big future in the game.

After Erling Haaland’s departure from the club, he became the Austrian’s side focal point earning him the league’s player of the year award in 2020.

Talking of the Man City striker, Szoboszlai’s former manager Jesse Marsch said he was just as talented as the Norwegian.

He told the Bundesliga’s official website: “As talent goes, there aren’t many better players that can play his position.

“Some are strong, some are technical, some are good tactically, and some can defend well or run a lot.

“However, Dominik is special because he has all of these skills combined. Dominik is just as talented as Erling Haaland.

“He has won a trophy in every season of his career, including the German Cup in back-to-back seasons with RB Leipzig.”

Szoboszlai is now part of a stacked midfielder with he and Mac Allister joining veterans in Jordan Henderson, Fabinho and Thiago, as well as youngsters like Curtis Jones, Harvey Elliott and Stefan Bajcetic.

But Szoboszlai provides something different to all of those players and his technical qualities and attacking prowess could finally be the answer to Liverpool’s lack of an out-and-out attacking midfielder.


Igbo Kennedy

Igbo Kennedy

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