This could be a summer of goodbyes for RB Leipzig, with Dominik Szoboszlai the latest departee after completing his move to Liverpool.
Christopher Nkunku has left for Chelsea and Josko Gvardiol is also subject to more interest from abroad, so RB Leipzig was hoping to keep hold of another one of their young stars.
The 22-year-old joined RB Leipzig from Red Bull Salzburg in January 2021 but had to wait until the start of the 2021/22 campaign to make his debut due to injury issues.
Without being world-beating, Szoboszlai had grown at RB Leipzig and it’s no surprise to see interest growing this summer. The Reds ultimately beat off stave competition for his signature.
“As talent goes, there aren’t many better players that can play his position. Some are strong, some are technical, some are good tactically, and some can defend well or run a lot,” Jesse Marsch has said of Szoboszlai, having managed him at Salzburg and Leipzig.
“However, Dominik is special because he has all of these skills combined. Dominik is just as talented as Erling Haaland.”
So, what’s the story so far?
Who was interested in Dominik Szoboszlai?
The main teams linked with a move for Szoboszlai this summer were Newcastle United and Liverpool, a very Premier League-focused transfer saga.
Liverpool became front runners for Szoboszlai, with David Ornstein reporting that the Reds met with Szoboszlai’s agents to discuss a potential move. This is a big summer for Liverpool, especially in midfield, as they look to rebuild a section of their team that hasn’t been improved upon for a while.
The Reds have already brought in Alexis Mac Allister, and continue to be linked with a number of other midfielders in their push to return to the Champions League.
However, Newcastle joined them in the race as they look to bolster their own central midfield options, previously being in for James Maddison before his move to Tottenham Hotspur.
According to Sky Sports, after missing out on Maddison, Newcastle were likely to turn their interest to Szoboszlai as a second option. This isn’t new interest from Newcastle though, with the Magpies reportedly tracking Szoboszlai earlier in the season, reportedly sending scouts to watch him in RB Leipzig’s match against Werder Bremen in May with the Hungarian scoring the winner.
But in the end, he will be playing at St James’ Park next season, but as a visiting player.
How much did Szoboszlai cost?
The biggest thing with Szoboszlai this summer, and any deal for him, was his release clause at RB Leipzig. According to reports from Sky Germany, Szoboslai had a release clause of £60m, but that is no longer in play come the end of June, however, the Reds triggered it just in time.
Having accepted around £50m for the likes of Nkunku and Timo Werner in the past, RB Leipzig wanted a bit more for Szoboszlai, especially in what could be a big summer for departures.
When did Szoboszlai’s contract run out?
On RB Leipzig’s side in their quest to get the perfect deal for Szoboszlai (if they are willing to sell this summer) is the Hungarian’s contract length. Unlike other players reportedly on the market this summer, Szoboszlai’s contract at RB Leipzig doesn’t run out until June 2026, meaning there is no rush for Die Roten Bullen to sell before losing him on a free transfer.
Szoboszlai has subsequently penned a five-year contract with Liverpool and will don the number 8 shirt vacated by Naby Keïta and famously worn by legendary skipper Steven Gerrard whom many feel Szoboszlai can emulate.
— Liverpool FC (@LFC) July 2, 2023
“The last three or four days went really long; it was not that easy. But at the end I’m here, I’m happy and I can’t wait to get started,” he told Liverpool’s official website.
“[A] really historic club, really good players, good coach, everything is good. For me it was perfect to make the next step in a club like this. The fans, the stadium, everything is really good.”
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What has Szoboszlai said?
The last time Szoboszlai played at Anfield his side was on the wrong end of a 4-3 result, but to say he’s looking forward to his new surroundings would be an understatement.
“This time made me feel bad because we lost 4-3! But of course, I’ve said it before, I’ve almost never been nervous before the game, I think this was the first time in my life,” he told Liverpoolfc.com.
“Of course the stadium, the fans were unbelievable even [though] they were against us [Salzburg]. And we will see how it is when they are with me.
“I heard that it [Anfield] is going to be bigger. Of course, counting the days back because it’s a really proud time to get on the pitch in Anfield as a player for Liverpool.”
What has RB Leipzig said about their former player?
“Now we’re seeing the real Szoboszlai. He’s an unbelievably ambitious player, who wants to win. His shooting is exceptional, especially from range. I hope he can continue this way,” RB Leizpig manager Marco Rose said in January.
With six goals and eight assists in 31 Bundesliga matches last season, only Christopher Nkunku (20) was directly involved in more goals than Szoboszlai for RB Leipzig, so it’s easy to see why Rose has hope of the Hungarian keeping his quality up.
Speaking more recently, before RB Leipzig lifted the DFB Pokal, Rose said of Szoboszlai’s future: “I think it is a great signal that (Dani) Olmo has signed a new contract.
“Szoboszlai is in good form. There was no conversation between myself & the player because we didn’t have anything to talk about.”
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How could RB Leipzig replace Szoboszlai?
Now Szoboszlai has left RB Leipzig you can bet they’ve already got someone lined up to replace him, whether already at the club or found by their scouts from an obscure club. Although he is more of a central attacking midfielder, Szoboszlai was found more on the wings at RB Leipzig last season, so Die Roten Bullen would probably look for someone else who could fill more than one role.
The Hungarian is a skilled dribbler with excellent ball control, who can also find his teammates with a pass and finish, a triple threat further up the pitch. A similar player is Takefusa Kubo, though the Japanese star is more of a winger who can play through the middle.
While Kubo doesn’t quite have the same numbers for creativity as Szoboszlai, it is pretty close, and he more than makes up for it with his goal threat and defending high up the pitch.
But we know RB Leipzig like a more obscure name, so what about Alexis Flips who enjoyed a good season with Reims in Ligue 1. Sure, it’s not exactly groundbreaking, but Flips isn’t the main name people are talking about when it comes from attack-minded midfielders in Ligue 1. The main guy for that is Enzo Le Fee, but Rennes look set to secure his signing from Lorient, so we’re looking at Flips as an alternative.
Like Kubo, Flips is a winger so would be more natural in the role Szoboszlai has been playing, but the 23-year-old can also play through the middle. In Ligue 1 last season Flips was directly involved in 10 goals, scoring four and providing a further six assists, but he also created 44 chances. The dribbling is a big comedown from Szoboszlai but it’s an otherwise similar profile if RB Leipzig can replace the Hungarian’s skill on the ball elsewhere.