Zsolt Szoboszlai set in motion in the Hungarian city of Szekesfehervar the events that led to his son becoming Hungary’s youngest-ever captain, making his mark in the Austrian and German Bundesligas, and quickly becoming a fan favorite at Liverpool.
Dominik Szoboszlai, who has taken over the No. 8 shirt previously worn by Steven Gerrard, is swiftly becoming a fan favorite at Anfield thanks to his dogged play. Many Premier League fans outside of Merseyside have hailed him as one of the summer’s most exciting new acquisitions.
You can make your point quite quickly. Ange Postecoglou has revitalized Tottenham, where players like James Maddison and others have thrived, and Josko Gvardiol, a former teammate of Maddison’s at RB Leipzig, has been impressive for Manchester City. Szoboszlai, on the other hand, may be the best of the bunch.
Staying on the Leipzig train, it’s intriguing to compare the players who have left the Saxony club for Premier League clubs like Liverpool, most notably former No. 8 Naby Keita, who has to be considered a bust after being signed for £52 million.
Keita has returned to Germany and joined the Bundesliga’s cellar-dwelling Werder Bremen. Timo Werner received similar acclaim upon his arrival in the Premier League, only to disappoint at Chelsea. Others, like Leeds’s Jean-Kevin Augustin, have also come to these parts but been unable to establish dominance.
Watching Szoboszlai highlight reels on YouTube before he signed with Anfield showed that he has a good sight for a pass that cuts through the defense. These videos are often misleading, but this one is not.
The Hungarian is gaining praise not only for his on-the-ball skills, but also for his work off the ball. This season, he has run 57.7 kilometers, seven kilometers more than Andy Robertson, Liverpool’s second-best water-carrier (49.5 kilometers).
Szoboszlai isn’t just working hard to make defensive recoveries or get into the opposing penalty area late—he’s also moving at a breakneck pace. According to Opta data, only Luton’s Kyle Walker and Chiedozie Ogbene’s peak sprint speed has been faster since the 2020-21 season.
Szoboszlai is second on Liverpool’s team in both successful passes (263, behind only Robertson’s 304) and times won possession (33, behind only Robertson’s 38), highlighting his versatility as a midfielder. Chances have been generated by only Mo Salah, Trent Alexander-Arnold, and others.
Szoboszlai was asked to pick his idol by Mail Sport in a sky-high interview in July, and the publication was anticipating that he would mention a renowned midfielder. My father had the most impact,” was the reply.
Zsolt, a retired player from the lowest divisions in Hungary, was a recurring topic of conversation. “Many people make the mistake of dreaming,” Zsolt said last week to a Hungarian newspaper. We never daydreamed, but rather paid close attention to the work at hand and made steady, incremental progress.
Dominik started playing football at the ripe old age of three, and his dad was an avid player too. The young athlete practiced his agility by dodging plastic bottles in their living room, for example. If even one bottle toppled, he had to begin again.
He said in July, “I kept dribbling until it didn’t fall over, I kept trying until it was perfect.” My father forced me to play football while holding golf balls. The reason I grabbed the players’ shirts and concentrated solely on my footwork was so that I wouldn’t inadvertently foul anyone.
‘God gives you talent, but if you don’t work hard and sacrifice a lot, it is nothing,’ reads the tattoo on Szoboszlai’s forearm, a remark ascribed to Liverpool legend Gerrard. It’s unclear whether the Englishman actually stated this or not, but the thought was there.
For some reason, Zsolt believed that his son would have better ball control if he played in boots that were too small for him. This belief dates back to the days of Hungarian legend Ferenc Puskas. Shoe size seven is just right for Szoboszlai.
Those Hungarians may have been onto something after seeing Szoboszlai thrive in Liverpool’s revamped midfield this season. In light of the mаd scramble for midfielders this summer, £60 million for Szoboszlai might just be the steаl of the transfer window.