Liverpool were hellbent on Jude Bellingham but Dominik Szoboszlai is already key in Jurgen Klopp’s midfield revolution

Liverpool were hellbent on Jude Bellingham but Dominik Szoboszlai is already key in Jurgen Klopp’s midfield revolution

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When Dominik Szoboszlai received the ball from Wataru Endo 25 yards from goal against Leicester on Wednesday night, there was only one thought in his mind.

It was vintage Szoboszlai, who found the top corner from distance as he rifled an effort past Jakub Stolarczyk to put Liverpool ahead against the Foxes. Move over Adriano; there’s a new 99 Shot Power King in town.

Szoboszlai netted a stunner against Leicester but can he replicate it in the Premier League?

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Szoboszlai netted a stunner against Leicester but can he replicate it in the Premier League?Credit: Getty

When it became clear that Szoboszlai was on the market, and for as little as £60m, the main shock was that Liverpool were unrivalled in their pursuit of the Hungarian.

The Reds had been hellbent on landing Jude Bellingham and as interest in the teenager grew from the likes of Manchester City and Real Madrid, Liverpool quietly adjusted their target to another Bundesliga midfielder, who they signed for a fraction of the price.

Bundesliga aficionados will have been aware of what Szoboszlai would bring to Anfield following his summer arrival from RB Leipzig.

Long range thunderbolts became the norm in Germany’s top tier. Rather, the surprise has come in the swiftness with which Szoboszlai has adjusted to the rigours of Premier League football, and in playing in a different system to the one he is used to.

Last season, Szoboszlai would operate from the right or in a more advanced role for RB Leipzig, but under Jurgen Klopp, he’s operating as more of a number eight in the 4-3-3 setup.

He still has the license to get forward, however the 22-year-old needs to work harder off the ball in Klopp’s favoured system. It’s a role he has taken seamlessly.

This was key for both player and club. Liverpool’s midfield underwent a huge overhaul over the summer as Fabinho, Jordan Henderson, Naby Keita, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and James Milner all departed for pastures new.

Ryan Gravenberch, Wataru Endo and Alexis Mac Allister all joined Szoboszlai in the new-look midfield on Merseyside, the former pair joining later in the window.

Szoboszlai is loved by his teammates and Liverpool fans after just a couple of months

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Szoboszlai is loved by his teammates and Liverpool fans after just a couple of monthsCredit: Getty

As such, Liverpool would be forgiven for enduring a sub-par campaign given the turnaround in personnel in a key area of the pitch. And yet, on Sunday against West Ham, Liverpool extended their unbeaten league run to 17 matches.

They currently sit just two points off top spot, with a 1-1 draw with Chelsea on the opening weekend the sole blip on the record. And while it is still early days for the club, Szoboszlai’s transition has played a key role in the fine start to the campaign.

While in the Premier League, he’s been directly involved in just one goal – a superb strike in Liverpool’s 3-0 win over Aston Villa at the start of September – Szoboszlai has been influential in the final third for the Reds. Indeed, he ranks third for both shots (13) and key passes (12), and joint-first for successful dribbles (7).

However, this was to be expected from the attacking midfielder. Liverpool will have acquired his services to provide an additional offensive threat from a deeper central area in order to ease the burden on the frontmen and the full-backs.

Szoboszlai bagged his first Reds goal against Aston Villa before the last international break

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Szoboszlai bagged his first Reds goal against Aston Villa before the last international breakCredit: Getty

What stands out is how hard he is working out of possession. Only Mac Allister (15) has made more tackles than Szoboszlai (9) of all Liverpool players in the Premier League this season.

Granted, the latter is the most dribbled past player in England’s top tier this term (15), yet for a player that has changed roles for a new team, that new-found determination to rob the opponent of the ball is one that should be applauded. In time, that tackle success rate will undoubtedly rise as he really gets to grips with the role.

In that he has won possession in the midfield 23 times this season, the sixth most in the 2023/24 Premier League campaign, there’s a player who is evidently taking on the demands of his new boss, and doing so to an impressive standard to refine his game from solely an attacking midfielder to a more-rounded player in the middle of the park.

Szoboszlai, along with the rest of the Liverpool team, will face a very real test when they make the trip to Tottenham on Saturday, in what is perhaps their first big obstacle of the campaign so far.

Klopp will be delighted with Szoboszlai and there is more to come too

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Klopp will be delighted with Szoboszlai and there is more to come tooCredit: Rex

Yes, Liverpool have a superb recent record against Spurs, but under Ange Postecoglou, they are a far tougher proposition than in recent years.

Liverpool’s new-look midfield are expected to be put through their paces in the capital this weekend, but with Szoboszlai hitting the ground running in England, and in a new role, the Reds will be able to handle Postecoglou’s side far better than many may have expected.

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