The third player off the ranks to feature in our Bundesliga’s Brightest Talents series is RB Leipzig’s Dominik Szoboszlai.
Injury issues delayed the Hungarian's Leipzig debut, but now that he is up and running, it is the opportune moment to reflect on his career path so far, while assessing his strengths and weaknesses.
|Dominik Szoboszlai.||Photo: Steffen Prößdorf, CC BY-SA 4.0|
Szoboszlai’s career path will certainly not be one that is appreciated by the football purists. Having played for Liefering, Red Bull Salzburg and RB Leipzig - all clubs linked to Red Bull - the 21-year-old could be regarded as the football equivalent of a company man. In fact, Szboloszlai's impressive stint in Austria as well as his Leipzig career showing signs of promise has resulted in the Hungarian becoming one of Red Bull’s most notable stars.
After making his debut for Liefering at just the age of 16, Dominik Szoboszlai shone in the second tier of Austrian football, scoring 16 goals in 42 appearances, all while claiming 11 assists. Two and half years at Red Bull Salzburg followed, in a period where the Hungarian maestro continued to make his name. By the time Szoboszlai had joined RB Leipzig in January 2021, he had scored 26 goals in 83 appearances for Salzburg, and perhaps more impressively he ended his time in Austria with 35 assists. His trophy cabinet certainly benefitted from his stint with Salzburg as he helped his side win four league titles, while he also collected three Austrian Cup winners medals.
Despite joining Leipzig in January 2021, Szoboszlai never played under Julian Nagelsmann as a long-term injury ensured the Hungarian would have to wait until August to make his debut for Die Roten Bullen.
After playing under Jesse Marsch at Salzburg, Szoboszlai would once again link up with the American coach, although as it transpired, it would only be a fleeting reunion. Despite, Leipzig struggling in the Hinrunde, Szoboszlai’s performances caught the eye, with the youngster being named Bundesliga Rookie of the Month in August, October and November. With Leipzig now improving as a unit under new boss Domenico Tedesco, the 21-year-old now has the opportunity to blossom in a team that has rediscovered its flair and confidence.
A player that can play on either flank or in a more central position behind the forward line, Szoboszlai has demonstrated his clinical nature in front of goal in Austria, while Leipzig have seen snippets of the goalscoring abilities of the 21-year-old. As well as the ability to find the net, his two Champions League goals for Die Rotten Bullen gave an insight into his mentality, with a cool and composed spot-kick helping Leipzig to a 2-2 draw at the Parc des Princes against PSG, while he grabbed the opener in a 2-1 win over Man City in the final matchday of the Champions League group stage.
Signs of a big game player are encouraging as are the obvious creative assets the Hungarian possesses, which could be regarded as his greatest strength. Szoboszlai has assisted five goals in his 17 league appearances, but perhaps a more suitable barometer for the Hungarian's creative talents is Shot Creating Actions. Szoboszlai finds himself in the top five of shot-creating actions per 90 minutes, averaging 4.99 shot-creating actions per game, highlighting his strength.
Perhaps there is still room to improve with his play while in possession of the ball, as Szoboszlai has averaged just 0.6 dribbles a game in the Bundesliga this term, and his dribble success rate sits at only 46.7%. His dribbling ability in comparison to his team-mates also highlights a need for improvement. Out of all of Leipzig players that have made more than five Bundesliga appearances this season, seven other players have averaged more dribbles per game than the Hungarian prospect. Although, what is encouraging for Szoboszlai and Leipzig is that only the impressive Christopher Nkunku has carried the ball more times in the final third and the 18-yard box than Szoboszlai in the Leipzig ranks.
Just like any player, Szoboszlai will be aiming to continue to add more goals and assists to his game in a bid to contribute to his team’s overall performances, while he will also be looking to continue to impress from dead-ball situations as he builds his reputation as a set-piece specialist.
Although the Hungarian is expected to remain with Leipzig for the foreseeable future, his next move will certainly be intriguing as it is likely to result in the 21-year-old plying his trade outside the Red Bull structure.
In the short-term, he has the chance to star for Leipzig in the second half of the season, with Die Rotten Bullen still competing in the Champions League and the DFB-Pokal, while they are also eyeing a place in the top-four as they look to continue their promising start under Tedesco.