He was the answer to former RB Leipzig coach Julian Nagelsmann's demand for more goals from midfield, but what makes Austria international midfielder Marcel Sabitzer one of the Bundesliga's best all-round performers?
bundesliga.com turns the spotlight on the man who leads Die Roten Bullen from the middle of midfield...
Club: RB Leipzig
Country: Austria (54 caps/8 goals)
"Last season, I was missing a little bit of calmness in front of goal. I've got that back," said Sabitzer, who netted nine Bundesliga goals in 32 appearances in 2019/20, more than doubling his 2018/19 tally. He hit the ground running that season, having a hand in all four of Leipzig's strikes in their Matchday 1 romp over Union Berlin, and has not looked back. His brilliant brace in Leipzig's UEFA Champions League last-16 triumph over Tottenham Hotspur gave him the chance to show on the continental stage the talent that Leipzig and he has continued to flourish.
Adding goalscoring to his long list of qualities does not mean the 2017 Austrian Footballer of the Year has neglected the others. Sabitzer - who was made Leipzig captain ahead of the 2020/21 campaign - operated from a deeper midfield role in 2020/21, but still top-scored in the Bundesliga for the club with eight goals, as well as providing three assists and winning over 200 tackles.
Watch: All of Sabitzer's goals and assists in 2019/20
Over the course of his six seasons with Leipzig, Sabitzer has moved from right-winger to attacking midfielder and now - where he played most often under Nagelsmann - central midfield. It's from there that he helped Leipzig to a second-place finish in 2020/21 and also a runners-up medal in the DFB Cup.
Plays a bit like: David Beckham
A goalscoring midfielder with killer set piece technique? Sabitzer is more than a little reminiscent of the former England captain, who made a career out of his remarkable swinging deliveries and long-range free-kicks.
He may be less of an out-and-out winger than the former Manchester United, Real Madrid and LA Galaxy star, but Sabitzer still shares his pinpoint accuracy from distance, as Werder Bremen found out when he netted a stunning free-kick on Matchday 5 of 2019/20. The Austrian also scored a Goal of the Season contender in 2020/21, firing home a stunning long-range effort at the Olympiastadion.
His glorious effort against Zenit St. Petersburg in the Champions League groups also showed that there is something of a showman in Sabitzer, who is starting to rack up a serious highlights reel. That Bremen free-kick was the fourth of his career and his third in Germany, after superb efforts against VfB Stuttgart and Bayer Leverkusen earlier in 2019. If you're keen to find someone in the Bundesliga who can truly bend it like Beckham, look no further…
Did you know?
Sabitzer's father, Herfried, was a striker for the Austrian national team, and played for Austria Salzburg - now Red Bull Salzburg, for whom his son also played - and Grazer AK.
What they're saying
"I have always said I want more goal threat from midfield. He clearly took that both literally and personally. He's a very important player for us." - Julian Nagelsmann, RB Leipzig coach
"He has great shooting technique. I've no where he gets it from, but he's always got it ready to go. Today it was really important because it was the winning goal, and an unbelievably good one at that. I'm happy for him." - RB Leipzig captain Willi Orban after Sabitzer's world-class strike at Zenit
"Marcel is a player who gives everything for 90 minutes, does a lot for the team and works a lot defensively. He runs a lot, has some good technical moments, and is now scoring goals." - Franco Foda, Austria coach