Dominik Szoboszlai – An In-Depth Look
By James Whiffing
It has been evident for some time now that Arsenal lack creativity. The likes of Bukayo Saka and Dani Ceballos are used to attempt to nullify this problem but they simply don't offer quite enough. They shouldn’t be relied on to do this so heavily, particularly since this isn’t their primary role in the side.
Over the Summer, the Gunners were linked with the likes of Houssem Aouar and Coutinho as of recent times; two players who are more than capable of solving our creativity issues. However, after already having splashed out £50 million on Thomas Partey, it doesn’t seem likely that Arsenal will spend another £50 million on Aouar, particularly in the current financial climate.
It seems as though a cheaper alternative will be the most likely option for Mikel Arteta this January transfer window; in my opinion, Dominik Szoboszlai would be a no-brainer for the Gunners.
Szoboszlai ticks all the boxes: he is versatile, he has Champions League experience, he has end product, he is still young, he would be cheap and, most importantly, he is a very creative, technical player. Arsenal should also be an attractive proposition for the Hungarian too. Arsenal can improve the 20-year-old as a player and offer him Premier League football.
Also, due to a big dip in form for the likes of Lacazette and Willian and the inconsistency of Pepe, Szoboszlai could find himself featuring frequently if he keeps on top of his game; other teams could just use him as a squad player until he develops more. At Arsenal, he could instantly be integrated into the squad.
Although Arsenal can't currently offer Szoboszlai Champions League football, we have seen the Gunners lure players in from Champions League sides, with the likes of Thomas Partey and Nicolas Pepe being recent examples of this. So, hopefully, a lack of UCL football won't be an issue.
Now, with all this being said, lets delve into what makes Dominik Szoboszlai such an exciting young talent and how he could improve Arsenal.
Dominik Szoboszlai’s Strengths
Firstly, it is worth noting that Szoboszlai, as mentioned above, is a very creative player who also has end product. This season, he averages1.14 assists per 90 in the Austrian Bundesliga, with the Hungarian having notched 1 goal and 4 assists in just 315 minutes this season.
Additionally, the midfielder has also proved himself in the Champions League for RB Salzburg, scoring 5 and assisting 1 in 564 minutes. In all competitions, Szoboszlai has averaged a goal contribution every 66 minutes. Sensational.
The reason for why goals and assists are important for a creative player is because they need to have end product to have a real impact. For instance, Alex Iwobi was always impressive in the build up in attacks but could never seem to find the final ball or finish. On the contrary, Szoboszlai can apply the end product to his game whilst also being solid in the build up too. The sign of a top player.
After establishing that Szoboszlai’s end product is more than excellent, let’s move on to his set piece ability. The RB Salzburg man has scored two free kicks (both for Hungary) this season; a move to Arsenal would add his name to an already long list of dead ball specialists (Pepe, Granit Xhaka and Alex Lacazette just to name a few).
When in space, Szoboszlai is a very dangerous player; the tools and abilities he has allows him a whole range of different avenues to attack the opposition from. Firstly, he is very two-footed, which allows him to shoot or pass on his left as well as his stronger right foot. This is also adds a creative spark and an element of unpredictability in a sometimes flat Arsenal team.
The likes of Ceballos, Xhaka and Pepe are all very one-footed, which can at times hinder their game. When you look at his brilliant end product too, it is clear that Szoboszlai has all the tools and abilities to be a deadly player when given the opportunity.
Finally, another of the 20-year-old’s many different assets is his versatility. This season has seen Szoboszlai deployed in numerous different positions with left wing being his most frequently played position for Salzburg this season. However, the Hungarian tends to drift instead of stick to his position, which again increases his creative/attacking output since he is constantly moving, which makes it harder for defenders to pick him up.
Also, considering the fact that the ‘number 10’ doesn't feature in Arteta's preferred 4-3-3, this Szoboszlai has shown he can still be of use through his ability to play on the flank or as a number 8.
Dominik Szoboszlai’s Weaknesses
Szoboszlai doesn’t have too many weaknesses, and the weaknesses he does have can be ironed out over time.
One of his weaknesses is that he is quite weak, particularly for his size. The Hungary international stands at 6’1, but he frequently gets muscled off of the ball, particularly when he comes up against physical players.
Consequentially, at first, coming to England will likely be a challenge for him physically. Although after he has a year or two under his belt, he should have adapted better and be better equipped to face physical opponents. Gabriel Martinelli faced a similar issue upon his arrival in England but seems to have bulked up a bit now.
Another weakness of Szoboszlai's game is his inability to work in tight spaces. The 20-year-old is used to being shown lots of respect by opposition and he often finds himself in lots of space to pick out passes and take shots. However, when he is closed down he seems to panic a bit and give it away.
Hopefully, Arteta and his staff will be able to help Szoboszlai with this. Arteta was hailed as a great one-on-one coach during his time as assistant coach with Manchester City, with both Raheem Sterling and Leroy Sane having both previously publicly praised Guardiola's former assistant for this aspect of his coaching. Arteta could potentially use these skills to progress Szoboszlai.
How would Dominik Szoboszlai fit into Mikel Arteta’s side?
I think that Arteta has to fit Szoboszlai into his side since the lack of creativity in the squad as of recent times has been almost non-existent. The 1-0 loss against Leicester is a prime example of a game in which we did not create enough chances for the likes of Aubameyang, who was feeding off scraps.
Arsenal’s inability to break down low blocks would be helped drastically by the inclusion of Szoboszlai in the side. With the Hungarian on the left, Aubameyang down the middle and Pepe on the right, I would expect the Szoboszlai to drift into a more central positions throughout games and attempt to pick out Aubameyang and Pepe. Enticing.
Or, potentially against weaker opposition, Szoboszlai could start on the left-side of a midfield three. With Thomas Partey, Mikel Arteta now has a defensive midfield fulcrum to build off. Partey behind Szoboszlai and another attacking-minded midfielder could indeed work nicely.
Overall, I think it would be a no-brainer for Arsenal to sign Dominik Szoboszlai. He would only cost around £20 million, therefore wouldn’t be much of a risk financially, and still has plenty of time to develop. He would significantly improve Arsenal’s creativity and, with the clinical Aubameyang in front of him, he should get plenty of assists if he were to come to North London.