Hungarian midfielder, Dominik Szoboszlai, became a Liverpool player in early July 2023 when he moved from RB Leipzig for a reported fee of around £60m. In this article, we’ll run through Szoboszlai’s career to date. With fans already touting him as the “new Gerrard” (which makes him the 4th such player at least by our count!), we’ll also attempt to assess whether he’ll be a success at Anfield.
Dominik Szoboszlai’s Career to Date
Born in October 2000 (yes, that makes us feel old!), in the central Hungarian city of Székesfehérvár, Dominik Szoboszlai started his football trade early. His father had played for teams in the lower leagues in Austria and clearly he wanted his son to achieve more than he’d managed.
He reportedly set up slalom football courses for a three-year-old Dominik, and often insisted that the boy practice playing footy with golf balls. It seems the unconventional methods paid off though as Szoboszlai made his debut for Austrian second-tier side Liefering at the age of 17. He scored 10 goals in 33 appearances for Liefering and landed a move to Red Bull Salzburg.
With RB Salzburg, Szoboszlai enjoyed plenty of success, winning four Austrian Bundesliga titles on the bounce between 2017/18 and 2020/21 (although he only played one game for the side in his first season as he arrived at the club late in the campaign). He also won three Austrian Cups with the club and scored a total of 26 goals in 83 appearances in all competitions. It was while at Salzburg that Szoboszlai progressed from the Hungary under-21 team to the senior team and made his debut in a friendly against Russia in June 2017, which Hungary lost 3-0.
Having featured in the Champions League and Europa League for RB Salzburg, Szoboszlai began to attract the attention of some of Europe’s bigger clubs. It was another Red Bull-owned club, RB Leipzig, who landed the youngster in December 2020 for around €20 million – then a record for a Hungarian player.
Julian Nagelsmann – who would later manager Bayern Munich – was in charge at Leipzig at the time and he helped the Hungarian develop into an effective midfielder in the Bundesliga. He scored 20 goals and made 21 assists in his 91 games for Leipzig, but also developed his ability to battle in the middle of the park and mix it with the best the Bundesliga had to offer.
Despite having signed a four-and-a-half-year deal with Leipzig in 2020, Szoboszlai (or his agent) included a release clause in the contract which allowed Liverpool to trigger the sale. Liverpool and their fans certainly hope that the £60m the Reds paid for the Hungarian will prove to be a bargain. He’s already the captain of the Hungary national side – a side that beat England twice and Germany once in the Nations League in 2022. And at just 22 years of age, assuming he stays relatively injury-free, the future looks very bright for the midfielder.
Is Dominik Szoboszlai the New Steven Gerrard?
It is perhaps a sign of faith that Szoboszlai has been handed the number eight jersey that was previously worn by club legend Steven Gerrard. But Stevie G’s are pretty darn big boots to fill at Anfield, so is the new Hungarian signing destined for a fall or will he rise to the challenge?
There is talk that, at the age of just 22, the signing of Szoboszlai is very much aimed at the future. But many pundits and fans think he already has plenty to offer and that he should be thrown straight into the first team, especially given Liverpool’s obvious issues in midfield. That’s certainly the view of former Liverpool defender and multiple trophy winner, Steve Nicol.
The Reds had previously been linked with a move for Jude Bellingham, but the former Borussia Dortmund man plumped for a move to Real Madrid. The Reds apparently decided that the outlay required to obtain Bellingham’s services was just too great. And so they turned their attention to two other fine young midfielders instead: Szoboszlai, as we’ve detailed, and Argentine World Cup winner, Alexis Mac Allister, who they picked up from Brighton for an initial fee of around £35m.
Whether or not Alexis Mac Allister and Szoboszlai can form the kind of midfield partnership enjoyed by Steven Gerrard and Xabi Alonso remains to be seen. But there are certainly high hopes that the new-look midfield will be full of creation, energy and battling spirit.
How Does Szoboszlai Compare to Other Top Premier League Midfielders?
Given that Szoboszlai has been playing in the Bundesliga in Germany, it’s hard to compare directly with the players who’ve been plying their trade in the English top flight in the last season. But here we’ll just give some key stats for the some of the top midfielders in England in the 2022/23 and show how Szoboszlai lines up against them. Note that we will show stats relating to games played in the Premier League or Bundesliga.
|Goals/Assists Per game
|Kevin De Bruyne
|Steven Gerrard (2008/09)
Of course, rudimentary stats can only show you so much and many players earn their keep by doing things that aren’t often picked up by the headline stats of goals or assists. Although, on these numbers, Kevin De Bruyne and Bukayo Saka are well ahead of Szoboszlai, the Hungarian is not far behind some of the other most effective midfielders in the English game.
Reds fans will hope he develops into something that resembles Steven Gerrard at his best… whose goals/assists to games ratio in 2008/09 was pretty darn impressive by anyone’s measure. Time will tell, but we reckon Szoboszlai may well be the real deal, even if he doesn’t quite make it to Gerrard’s incredible level.