Laszlo Benes has been compared to Marek Hamsik and Chris Waddle, delivers some of the game's best set-pieces, and has played a central role in Borussia Mönchengladbach's climb to the top of the Bundesliga table.
bundesliga.com takes a closer look at the Slovakia international who is beginning to show just why Gladbach made him his country's most expensive footballing export in 2016.
Club: Borussia Mönchengladbach
Position: Attacking midfielder
Country: Slovakia (3 caps)
The fact Benes played 11 Bundesliga games for Gladbach in the first three seasons after moving to Germany and has featured in nine already in the 2019/20 campaign says (almost) everything about the Slovakia international's development. The fact the Bundesliga outfit gave him a five-year deal when they lured him away from Zilina in 2016 said much about his potential, and - after a broken foot ruined his 17/18 campaign and a hugely beneficial six-month loan spell at Holstein Kiel last season - Benes is now starting to deliver on it, to the extent he is currently one of the best value-for-money signings you can make in bundesliga.com's Fantasy Manager game.
Three assists in six Bundesliga starts have been embellished with an industry that has seen him win half of his challenges, a very solid ratio for a player whose finesse outweighs his ferocity. Wed that to the accuracy that has brought an 86 per cent pass completion rate, most of which were played in the suffocating confines of the opposition's final third, and you can see why he has won Marco Rose over. "Right now, he's a very important factor in our play," said the Foals' boss, the first to really show his faith in Benes. "Because he embodies many things that are important for us."
Watch: Benes scored on his full Bundesliga debut back in April 2017!
Plays a bit like: Marek Hamsik
Hamsik is a living legend in Slovakia, and Benes has all the qualities to succeed the former Napoli man as his nation's football idol.
The Serie A star became an icon in Naples thanks to his commitment to the club, but mostly due to his ability to inspire his teammates. His metronomic passing made him the essential ingredient in the success at the San Paolo, while Benes' set-pieces bear more than an echo of Hamsik's laser-guided dead-ball deliveries. "Maybe a little," laughed Benes when asked about the comparison, but former Slovakia international and now Slovakia manager Samuel Slovak has another idea entirely.
"I would compare him to Chris Waddle," he said. "He was left-footed, the same as Benes. Laszlo is highly talented, has great physical attributes and also character. However, he has to work hard in order to confirm his qualities." Hamsik or Waddle? Gladbach fans would surely be delighted if Benes emulates either.
Did you know?
Benes was just 13 when he left his home near Dunajska Streda in the Hungarian-speaking region of Slovakia to cross the border and join the youth academy of ETO FC Gyor. It was the next and most significant step yet in his dream to become a professional that had started very very young indeed. "My dad got me a football when I was seven months old," he explained. "People in the village hardly ever saw me without it."
What they're saying
"Laci puts the ball in where it should be, and it makes us dangerous in those situations. That's true of set-pieces, but also in open play." - Marco Rose, Mönchengladbach coach
"Laszlo has music in his foot." - Tim Walter, Benes' boss at Kiel
"He plays like an experienced player. You can't see that he is only 19." - Gladbach's Patrick Herrmann after Benes'Bundesliga debut against Bayern Munich in March, 2017.