A completely different kind of player, but "just as talented as Erling Haaland" - Liverpool's Hungarian midfielder Dominik Szoboszlai proved at RB Leipzig just how outrageously gifted he is...
Data correct as of 4 June 2023
Club: RB Leipzig
Country: Hungary (30 caps/ seven goals)
Following his father, Zsolt, into football, Szoboszlai played for the Fonix and MTK youth teams in his native Hungary, before enjoying a formative stint over the border in Austria. He went from the AKA Red Bull Salzburg U18s, via affiliate club Liefering, to the pros, making his senior debut in 2017/18. Already an U18 league champion, the 6'1" midfielder duly added four Austrian Bundesliga titles and three Austrian Cups to his collection, whilst scooping the 2019/20 Player of the Year award.
All told, Szoboszlai registered 42 goals and 45 assists across 125 senior outings for Liefering and Salzburg, prompting Leipzig to make their move in January 2021. Injury deprived them - and the Hungary national team, competing at the rescheduled 2020 Euros - of his services until the following campaign, but he more than made up for lost time once fit.
Since marking his full Bundesliga debut with a brace, the two-footed midfield maestro has gone on to post six goals and eight assists in each of his two 31-appearance campaigns in the German top flight. The Hungary captain has also done the business in the UEFA Champions League and Europa League, while his 20th Leipzig goal in all competitions put the seal on the club's second successive DFB Cup.
Plays a bit like: Rui Costa
An attacking midfielder by trade, Szoboszlai was often deployed in a wider role at Leipzig in 2022/23. Capable of picking a pass, feinting past opposition players and finishing with aplomb from all manner of angles, he's a devilishly snug fit for both roles. The Leipzig No.17 is also a real threat from set-pieces, drawing comparisons with some of the great European playmakers of yesteryear, such as Portugal great Rui Costa.
Did you know?
Szoboszlai struck up a close friendship with Erling Haaland during the pair's time together at Salzburg.
"He often told me what I needed to do and how to do it best, like a leader," Szoboszlai said of Haaland, three months his senior, in an interview with kicker while the now Manchester City goal machine was making waves with Borussia Dortmund.
Leipzig's magic Magyar is also very pally with Karim Adeyemi, another of his ex-Salzburg stablemates. He even mimicked the Dortmund forward's celebration after scoring Leipzig's third goal in a 3-1 win at Bayern Munich on the penultimate weekend of 2022/23.
"He's one of my best friends," Szoboszlai told bundesliga.com afterwards. "We had a phone call before the game, and he was just telling me, 'Please, if you can, do your best.' I said: 'First all of we have to concentrate on us and reaching the Champions League, but if with this win I can help you, then I will give it my best. It was for him."
Watch: Szoboszlai on his friendship with Erling Haaland
What they're saying
"Now we're seeing the real Szoboszlai. He's an unbelievably ambitious player, who wants to win. His shooting is exceptional, especially from range. I hope he can continue this way." - Leipzig head coach Marco Rose, speaking in January 2023
"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." - Szoboszlai's former Salzburg and Leipzig coach Jesse Marsch
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