Dominik Szoboszlai has been a revelation since his big-money transfer from RB Leipzig, however not precisely within the position many anticipated when becoming a member of Liverpool.
That assertion is totally open to debate, particularly given his current underwhelming efficiency at Kenilworth Street.
What’s more durable to argue with is his contribution to Liverpool this season: most minutes performed amongst outfield gamers, most progressive passes, most shot-creating actions and most opposition passes blocked.
If not for “well done boys, good process,” Liverpool could be unbeaten and stage on factors on the prime. The 23-year previous is a large a part of that.
The position of all-round midfielder was key to the summer season window drama, but few golf equipment have been trying to solid Szoboszlai.
The likes of Mason Mount, Moises Caicedo and Matheus Nunes, all of whom Liverpool additionally admired, have been way more coveted throughout the Premier League forward of their respective strikes.
What did Liverpool see in Szoboszlai? Why did so few others see it? And simply how has it labored out so effectively?
Final season, Szoboszlai performed simply six p.c of his Bundesliga minutes in central midfield.
Usually he was deployed out broad as a part of a 4-2-2-2 system, an attacking midfield/winger hybrid. He was additionally trialled in a deeper midfield position for each membership and nation.
Up to now, a participant with Szoboszlai’s imaginative and prescient and technical high quality could be moulded right into a playmaking No. 10 who would drift out and in of video games however ship huge moments.
These sorts of gamers are largely extinct now because of the velocity and physicality of the fashionable sport.
When submitting the Hungarian to the attention take a look at, nevertheless, it’s clear he had the bodily instruments and work ethic to play extra of a box-to-box position.
This meant he may doubtlessly exhibit his high quality as a No. 8, as a result of he would all the time be concerned within the sport.
If we take a look at Szoboszlai’s FBref numbers from final season, which might have fashioned a part of Liverpool’s scouting report, we see help for the proof of our eyes.
Not solely are his attacking numbers glorious, he additionally ranks positively amongst different attacking midfielders for defensive actions reminiscent of tackles and blocks.
Clearly, Szoboszlai had all the instruments.
However having spent so little time utilizing these instruments within the optimum place, it required slightly inventive considering to image him as a Premier League No. 8.
Whether or not it was Jurgen Klopp, Jorg Schmadtke or Jenny the scouting apprentice, somebody at Liverpool had the creativeness to see that Szoboszlai would match.
A cosy tactical match
After switching to the 3-box-3 formation final season, Liverpool turned extra defensively compact, and Trent Alexander-Arnold had extra licence to have an effect on the sport from his new central place.
However to make this work, Liverpool’s midfielders took up extra superior positions, whereas the wingers stayed nearer to the touchline.
To maximise this technique, Liverpool wanted to recruit an outstanding attacking midfielder, snug each within the half-space and the wings.
He instantly supplied Salah a real passing choice in entrance of him when pulling broad.
However when the No. 11 desires to get into his optimum place in the suitable half-space, he additionally has an overlapping runner to create house for him.
It’s no shock that Salah leads Liverpool in each targets and assists with Szoboszlai beside him.
To play in a 4-3-3/3-box-3, not like the 4-2-2-2, Szoboszlai additionally wanted to deliver his physicality to get again into the center throughout transitions and counter-press successfully.
This beneficial graphic reveals simply how adept he’s at recovering the ball excessive up the pitch.
Adapting Szoboszlai into this place has given him a platform to shine, and given Liverpool a serious system improve.
It’s nearly simpler to explain what Szoboszlai can’t do (get a nook kick previous the primary defender, to date) than what he can (just about every thing else).
The primary glimpse he confirmed within the Premier League was the burst of tempo at Stamford Bridge.
One blue shirt was left sprawling, then one other, as Szoboszlai strode into house on the suitable and the travelling Kop roared their approval.
Over the next weeks, we noticed candy ft to flee tight areas, crunching tackles, very good long-range targets, delicate chipped passes and an unbelievable engine that appears to go on and on and on.
Due to his small ft and unorthodox childhood coaching regime, Szoboszlai can deftly prove of congested areas.
However his highly effective 6’1″ body and lengthy strides additionally permit him to burst previous opponents and exploit open house. He opened his account together with his left vs. Bournemouth earlier than unleashing a rocket together with his proper vs. Leicester.
Whereas Szoboszlai has just one objective and two assists within the league this season, he’s prime for shot-creating actions – suggesting his team-mates may begin doing higher together with his service.
Within the information, he is without doubt one of the finest midfielders within the league for blocks and passes blocked, notably increased than a number of of Liverpool’s different targets who moved elsewhere within the Premier League.
We noticed this in opposition to Brighton, too.
Liverpool dedicated numbers forwards to disrupt Brighton‘s elite buildup play, and Szoboszlai stole the ball excessive up earlier than successful the penalty that gave his facet the lead.
After his least efficient show to date vs. Luton, Klopp highlighted the shortage of counter-pressing as the important thing to a disappointing consequence – highlighting simply how essential Szoboszlai has been in opposition to the ball.
Excessive threat, excessive reward
After exhibiting solely flashes of brilliance within the Bundesliga, it appeared a threat for any membership to fulfill Szoboszlai’s £60 million launch clause.
However after figuring out the proper place for his skillset, and matching him to a job of their system, Liverpool acted decisively.
The rewards are being reaped on the pitch week in, week out, as Liverpool look to observe up their main switch window by main the league on the finish of Might.