New Liverpool hero is one of the best midfielders in Europe, a future captain and a perfect fit

John Nicholson
Dominik Szoboszlai celebrates after scoring for Liverpool.
Dominik Szoboszlai takes the acclaim of the Kop.

With some of the savviest business of the summer, Liverpool finally have a suitable heir to Steven Gerrard in Dominik Szoboszlai. Here’s ‘What’s So Great About…’ the Reds’ midfield general…


Who’s this then?
Dominik Szoboszlai is a 22-year-old, 6’1” Székesfehérvár-born, Hungarian international midfielder currently playing for Liverpool and has made a highly-impressive start to the season, one which has had all football writers cutting and pasting his surname for the last few weeks.

He got his start aged just 17 when he made his senior debut in 2017 with Austrian club FC Liefering, who as any fule kno is the reserve team of Red Bull Salzburg. So impressive was he that he soon debuted with the parent club, becoming a starter from the 2018-19 season, helping the club win three league titles and two domestic cups at a young age.

Impressive stuff, so impressive that RB Leipzig paid Salzburg 36million cans of Red Bull for his services. Thirty months later they’d turned him into a €70million target for Liverpool.

To anyone paying the slightest bit of attention this was of no surprise at all. His stats showed him to be one of the most effective midfielders in Europe. In 42 games for FC Liefering he scored 16 times and made 11 assists. For Salzburg he played 83 times, scored 26 times and made a mighty 34 assists.

Moving into the Bundesliga didn’t cramp his style at all and he continued to excel with 20 goals and 22 assists in 91 appearances. He was spotted early for his national side, making his bow in 2017, he’s now played 34 times and has seven goals to his name.

So when Liverpool needed a midfielder who could create and score goals to replace the increasingly pudding-paced Henderson, as well as add a youthful energy and physical presence, he was a perfect fit.


Why the love?
He’s already been compared to Steven Gerrard. While this is obviously incredibly premature, there are some good reasons for it. He’s got that whole box-to-box thing going on, is as happy breaking up an attack as he is hitting a thunderbolt from outside the box, and you’ll often find him acting as an auxiliary no.10.

He’s a physical specimen, yet he doesn’t pound around the pitch like one of the big boys. He’s got quick feet and is fast across the turf and can be imposing, but he isn’t the sort to use brute force to bend the will of the opposition. In that sense he’s a very modern footballer.

Considering he’s only a few games into his career with the Reds, he already looks right at home. There was no ‘settling in’ period, he just turned up and immediately played the sort of games he’d played in Germany and Austria. He doesn’t hide from the ball, he makes himself available and starts a lot of forward progressions. He works hard out of possession too, making him an all-round attacking-midfielder. It’s often a truism that young players can be inconsistent but this lad doesn’t look like that type of player at all. Rather, the high regard he’s been held in for the duration of his short career, just makes him confident to do what he does.

The fact he is also captain of his country at just 22 shows the nature of his character and there are plenty who think it is only a matter of time before he’s captain at Anfield. Very much a ‘lead by example’ character, he is flexible and can play anywhere from the defensive third to support act to the strikers. Jurgen Klopp needs that sort of adaptability in his system not just between games but within games themselves. Add to that the fact that he’s an excellent striker of a dead ball with 13 penalties and eight free-kicks scored, can take a wicked corner as well as put his foot in when needed, and it’s not hard to see why the club lashed out £60million for him. It’d be interesting to know what his nickname is. Got to be ‘Boz’, I reckon.

Dominik Szoboszlai celebrates RB Leipzig's DFB Pokal win.

Three great moments
A decent hit on Wednesday night…

Did I say he can strike a dead ball? Well, better believe he can…

Putting Dortmund to the sword…

Future days?
He’s signed a five-year contract. It’s easy to forget he’s just 22 because he plays the game so fearlessly and with the sort of confidence you’d perhaps expect of a prodigious young talent who has been destined for greatness since his teens.

Obviously, Liverpool’s reboot is still in its early, formative times and it’d be rash to jump to too many conclusions in September but that’s never stopped us before. Right now, he is one of the top talents playing in the league. His energy and directness have already improved the whole team. They seem to play at a better pace and while they definitely have some defensive issues to resolve, going forward they look to be a fierce beast, not just because of the plethora of excellent strikers but because of the likes of Szoboszlai driving play from the middle third.

The club shop must be pleased about his arrival if they charge for each letter put onto a shirt given that he’s got a 10-letter name, even if spelling it correctly will be more of a challenge. Though it does fall quite naturally into some Scouse accents.

It seems very likely he will prove to be an excellent bit of long-term recruitment by Liverpool. While some might think it is just a matter of consulting the stats, finding players who can deliver what you need, who can work in your environment and improve the team is a hard art and one that many clubs have failed to achieve.

He certainly looks happy at his new club and topped off his great early start with a thwacker against Leicester City this week which really did echo some of those Gerrard strikes.

Yeah, they’ve bought well and if the potency of a club relies on its strikers, those strikers rely on a great midfield. Liverpool might just have signed one of the best in Europe right now.

Read more: What’s So Great About… Trent Alexander-Arnold | Mo Salah | Darwin Nunez