Liverpool’s midfield has long been the heartbeat of the club’s success, but last season exposed a critical need for reinforcements and revitalization in the middle of the park. Plagued by injuries and a lack of form, both the midfield and the backline struggled, leading to a high number of goals conceded (around 50 across all competitions).
However, Liverpool’s fortunes have taken a remarkable turn during the summer transfer window. With strategic precision, Jurgen Klopp and the club have made intelligent signings that directly addresses their midfield woes. The first acquisition was Premier League-proven Alexis Mac Allister from Brighton. The club secured the Argentina World Cup winner for a mere £35m, a price that can only be described as a bargain.
Liverpool then turned its attention to Dominik Szoboszlai, the 22-year-old captain of Hungary. Last week, the Reds completed the signing of the talented midfielder from RB Leipzig for a reported fee of 70m euros (£60m) on a five-year deal, making him the club’s second major signing of the summer.
Szoboszlai’s arrival is set to bring a new dimension to Jurgen Klopp’s midfield, and the fact that he has been entrusted with the iconic No 8 shirt, which was Liverpool legend Steven Gerrard’s number, speaks volumes about the club’s belief in his potential impact.
A product of Red Bull Salzburg’s youth development system, Szoboszlai’s professional debut came with FC Liefering in July 2017, where he showcased his talent by tallying 10 goals in 33 appearances. His return to Salzburg in 2017-18 marked his first appearance for the club, and he subsequently became a key player, notching 26 goals in 83 games. During the 2019-20 Champions League group stage, Szoboszlai faced Liverpool twice, leaving a lasting impression. In recognition of his performances, he was named the Austrian Bundesliga Player of the Season for 2019-20.
Szoboszlai’s debut after his transfer to RB Leipzig in January 2021 was initially delayed due to injury, but he made a strong impact upon his return to fitness. In the 2021-22 Bundesliga season, he made 31 appearances, scoring six goals and providing eight assists; and last season his numbers were exactly the same. Since joining Red Bull Salzburg, Szoboszlai has recorded an impressive total of 20 goals and 21 assists in 91 appearances across all competitions and helped RB Leipzig secure back-to-back DFB-Pokal triumphs in 2022 and 2023.
On the international stage, Szoboszlai has earned 32 caps for Hungary, making his debut in March 2019 against Slovakia and scoring seven goals since then.
How Will Szoboszlai Fit In At Liverpool?
Over the past two seasons Szoboszlai’s 38 non-penalty goals and assists in 91 competitive appearances may not be enough to grab one’s attention. However, his chance-creation statistics are much more impressive. His 161 chances created was a team high, including 99 from open play. This places him behind only former teammate Christopher Nkunku, who has signed for Chelsea, in the Bundesliga.
Since the start of 2021-22, Szoboszlai is one of just 14 players in the Bundesliga who have created at least 100 chances for teammates, with an average of 2.5 per 90, ranking him fifth in that category. Szoboszlai led RB Leipzig’s rankings for open-play attacking sequence involvements in each of the last two Bundesliga seasons. Although his average of 6.0 involvements per 90 in the 2022-23 season slightly surpassed his involvement rate in 2021-22 (5.4), he ranked fourth overall in the German top flight for total involvements in shot-ending sequences in open play (163).
Additionally, Szoboszlai topped the Bundesliga charts in the 2022-23 season for involvements in open-play shots, being involved in both the build-up and the shot creation itself. He had 29 such instances, four more than Bayern’s Serge Gnabry. His 36 shots from outside the box were second only to Bayern’s Leroy Sane.
Unsurprisingly, Szoboszlai displays a high work rate, ranking 11th among the 106 outfield players who played at least 2,000 Bundesliga minutes last season for average sprints per 90 (31.7) and ranking in the top half for average distance covered per 90 (10.8km).
In the previous season, Szoboszlai spent 77% of his playing time as a right-sided winger. This marked a shift from the previous season, where he operated mostly as a left-winger or in central midfield. His versatility to play across the midfield positions makes him an attractive addition for Liverpool.
If Klopp continues to utilize Trent Alexander-Arnold as an inverted right back, which would result in a 3-box-3 formation, it is reasonable to think that Szoboszlai will play as a right-sided “number 10” alongside Alexis Mac Allister. This positioning would allow Szoboszlai to contribute his creative and goal-scoring abilities in a central attacking role.
Although Liverpool will likely deploy Szoboszlai in the center of the park, it is worth comparing his statistics to those of Liverpool’s forwards since he spent last season as a right winger. During the last campaign only Mohamed Salah registered more goal contributions than Szoboszlai, and the Hungarian created more chances than any of Salah, Nunez, Jota, Gakpo, and Diaz.
With a Steven Gerrard tattoo inked on his arm and proudly wearing the iconic number eight shirt, Szoboszlai is clearly inspired to leave his mark on Anfield. As Liverpool’s fixtures present a mix of challenges and opportunities, including tough away trips to Chelsea and Newcastle United, there will be ample opportunities for Szoboszlai to showcase his value to the FPL world.
Priced at £7.0m, he is cheaper than Darwin Nunez and Cody Gakpo, and unlike them, he won’t take up one of your precious forward slots. He’s cheaper than midfielder Diogo Jota too (as well as Mo Sarah, of course). Luis Diaz carries the same price tag as the Hungarian, but Szoboszlai is perhaps more likely to be a consistent starter.
Now part of a formidable attacking corps at Anfield, Szoboszlai’s ability to deliver pinpoint through balls and crosses, and his exceptional two-footed ability long shots and even free-kicks, make him a fantasy player worth monitoring closely.
Szoboszlai’s addition to Liverpool’s midfield completes a renovation of the engine room that will now see TAA, Mac Allister, Fabinho, and Szoboszlai as the principal architects supporting Liverpool’s offense. With his versatility, goal-scoring ability, and creative vision, Szoboszlai looks poised to ramp up Liverpool’s attacking menace. His arrival provides a boost to the team’s depth and quality, and refreshes a midfield that had started to become lackluster and stale. The stage is set for an exciting season ahead!
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