Bundesliga News

Dominik Szoboszlai – A sensational star having a subtly superb season

By Matthew Brennan   @BrennanMatthew7

After bagging two superb goals in RB Leipzig’s 2-1 win over struggling Stuttgart on Friday night, 22-year-old Dominik Szoboszlai is certainly one of the most promising prospects in German football right now, and an eye should definitely be kept on him in this second half of the Bundesliga season.
Dominik Szoboszlai.
Dominik Szoboszlai.Photo: Steffen Prößdorf, CC BY-SA 4.0
Dominik Szoboszlai is a unique footballer, who plays in quite an unorthodox position for Die Roten Bullen under Marco Rose. His very direct dribbling style coupled with his long strides at 1.86m tall (6’1) and his undeniably quick feet make him a player that is very exciting to watch, even without mentioning his absolutely elite ball-striking. Rose tends to use a 4-2-2-2, with Szoboszlai playing in a wide attacking midfield role. The Hungarian star is not totally a winger, nor is he a midfielder, hence the earlier reference to the unorthodox positions he takes up – which will be referred to as a ‘wide 10’ throughout.

One thing that has been evident in his play recently is that he works best off the right-hand side in this system. Despite firing home twice against Stuttgart, the most impressive part of Szoboszlai’s game is his creative abilities. He has picked up 8 assists in 14 starts this season, which is second only to Eintracht Frankfurt no.9, Randal Kolo Muani (10), who has 3 more starts to his name. With an average of just below 5 shot creating actions, and 0.81 goal creating actions per 90, he is right up there with the most threatening technicians in all of Europe.

The Red Bull academy product is also an elite passer of the ball, which is even more evident when compared to players who operate in attacking roles. When statistically compared to wingers and attacking midfielders, his passing is superior in virtually every aspect of the skill. His long-passing, short-passing, defence-splitting passes and his ability to pass forward in general are all in the upper/final quarter of the rankings.

Based on these underlying numbers we can come to the conclusion that he is not just having a complete overperformance of a season in terms of creativity, but rather that RB Leipzig are reaping the rewards of a very clever technician. Even though the Hungarian star has only picked up 4 goals across all competitions this season, 3 of the 4 were sensational efforts. A screamer vs Borussia Dortmund last September and 2 of similar quality last time out against Stuttgart. He is without doubt a player with star quality, all you have to do is look at these goals. He’s also no stranger to showing up when it matters most, firing home a last-minute winner to send his native Hungary to the European Championships for just their fourth time in 2020.

That being said, if there is one aspect of his game that you would like to see him develop further it would be adding some more consistency to his goalscoring. Interestingly, Marco Rose was the man who gave Szobozslai his introduction to first team football back in 2017 at RB Salzburg, so the two are said to have a very good relationship, with Szoboszlai himself saying, “one thing is certain: if he hadn't been there in my career, I wouldn't be where I am now."

As tends to be the case with pretty much all of the managers that spend time within the Red Bull conveyor belt, Rose’s Leipzig are a team that press high and do their very best to win the ball high up the field. As one of the two wide tens, Szoboszlai is key to this system. Averaging at least 1 tackle in the middle/attacking thirds per game, he ranks in the 80th percentile of attacking players. He also averages 6 ball recoveries per 90, which is very good for a predominantly right sided attacker, who is not consistently in the thick of the action.

Evidently, his workrate and desire can be felt on the field, as his teammate Xaver Schlager details, “We also take more note of how hard he works off the ball, how he positions himself and how he presses on the pitch. I don't think I've ever seen an attacking midfielder who is so good defensively."

Clearly, Szoboszlai prides himself on this trait as he dons a tattoo on his left arm, which reads “Talent is given by God. But without determination and sacrifice, it’s worth nothing.”

To wrap up, if RB Leipzig are to stand any chance of competing with Manchester City in the round of 16 of the Champions League, or if they are to claim their first ever ‘Meisterschale’ this season, they are going to need all their star men at full throttle from now until the end of the season. Dominik Szoboszlai is a real difference maker for this exciting Leipzig outfit and if they are to achieve something special this season, he will without doubt be right at the heart of it.

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