Dominik Szoboszlai looks like he's on the move. The big Hungarian attacker is only 20, but he's already drawing the interest of some of Europe's biggest clubs. And while both Arsenal and AC Milan have shown interest, CBS Sports Soccer Insider Fabrizio Romano reports that the outline of a deal has been in place for Szoboszlai to walk the well traversed Red Bull road from Salzburg to Leipzig since November, an agreement which could be finalized and announced before Christmas and the start of the winter transfer window.
What kind of player will Leipzig be getting? It's notoriously hard to predict how a young striker, even a tremendously successful one will adapt when moving from a smaller league, to a higher level of competition. Luckily, Szoboszlai has played enough minutes on the European stage over the last couple of seasons to at least give the world a feel for what he can do against more well regarded opponents. Between the Champions League and Europa League over the last two seasons, Szoboszlai has played 1,300 minutes, more than enough to get a feel for what he does well, and which areas of his game he still needs to improve on.
The first thing to understand is that he's not a pure striker. He's not really a striker at all. Szoboszlai plays mostly on the left wing. Salzburg play an extremely high tempo attacking style and press teams aggressively when they lose the ball, which means he spends a lot of time in the attack third of the pitch, but he's always playing with at least one, and often times two, attackers in front of him.
That said, his attacking output is extremely high for a winger, especially a young one. His expected goals, the number of goals he'd be expected to score on average given the shots he's taking, per 90 minutes is 0.31 over his last two seasons of European play combined. That number would rank 26th in the Bundesliga (among players who have played at least 500 minutes), and ahead of wingers like Serge Gnabry of Bayern Munich and Leipzig's own Christopher Nkunku.
And the kinds of shots he takes are very encouraging too. While Szoboszlai is a typical inverted winger in that he's right footed and plays on the left, he doesn't fall into the trap that many young inverted wingers do of relying on cutting inside onto his stronger foot and letting fly from distance. Those shots are typically fairly low value, and while it's possible to rely on them against lesser competition, top level defenses are extremely proficient at defending those kinds of attempts. Szoboszlai's xG per shot in Europe, however, has been 0.13, a number that a striker who spends all their time in the box would be happy with, let alone a winger who is usually faced with more challenging shooting situations. Rather than letting it fly from distance, he's quite skilled at finding ways to get into the box to find high quality looks, and 45.7% of his shots in Europe have come in the box.
Szoboszlai's creative game tells a similar story. His passes in Europe over the past couple of seasons amount to 0.18 expected assists per 90 minutes which would put him 24th in the Bundesliga (again among players with at least 500 minutes). He crosses the ball a lot, which isn't surprising for a wide attacking player. He played 5.93 crosses per 90 minutes in Europe, which would be the eighth-most in the Bundesliga, although still behind his possible future teammate Nkunku, and just ahead of Leipzig's left wing back Angelino. Although here it's worth noting that he is an inverse winger who has played at Salzburg on the left, he is quite different in style than those two left footed players who are currently mainstays on that side of the pitch at Leipzig.
Put all those numbers together and they make a very good player, but one who is not yet a superstar. If Szoboszlai can translate his European performances into the same level of production for a new club, he will immediately slot in as a competent starter for them. But, what's really exciting is that being a competent starter at age 20 suggests a player with enough ability to become one of the world's best by age 22 or 23. If he does in fact lace up his boots for Leizpig starting in January, the team will have yet another attacking midfielder to build around as the seek to challenge Bayern Munich not only at the top of the Bundesliga table, but in the latter stages of the Champions League as well.