Dominik Szoboszlai looks a little lost right now, doesn’t he?
The former RB Leipzig attacker was running the show for the Reds earlier in the campaign. He had adapted to life in the Premier League seamlessly and it appeared as though Liverpool had grabbed themselves a bargain, despite the £60m transfer fee.
Back in October, Szoboszlai topped the charts for Attacking Sequence Involvements. The Hungary skipper was heavily involved in practically all of the final phase play for the Reds. At one stage, he even ranked first for chances created for Liverpool, in the Premier League.
Now though, he’s fallen to third for chances created. Trent Alexander-Arnold (40) and Mohamed Salah (41) have climbed above the Liverpool No. 8 (32). His last assist for the Reds arrived in October during the 3-0 win over Nottingham Forest and he has just one goal involvement in his last 10 outings.
His influence on this team is waning.
Szoboszlai didn’t create a single chance against Manchester United in a game in which Liverpool had 34 shots. He had just one effort and it arrived from distance. The powerhouse midfielder failed to test Andre Onana and was replaced just after an hour. It was arguably his worst performance for the Reds and though he had a 100% duel success rate, he found a teammate with just 78% of his attempted passes. He was loose in possession in a game that Jurgen Klopp really needed his midfielder to be calm and composed.
This has become the norm over recent weeks.
Is Szoboszlai feeling the effects of playing in every single game? He may only be 23 so the assumption is he can play whenever and wherever but RB Leipzig did a good job managing his minutes over the past two seasons. His drop off in form could be tied to the midfield woes for Liverpool over recent weeks. The Reds have had to chop and change their middle-third options due to injuries and suspensions.
There’s also the Ryan Gravenberch factor to consider. The Dutchman is a lot of fun to watch but he’s very direct in his approach which means Szoboszlai has to almost accommodate him in the middle third by reining in his approach. If he didn’t the Liverpool midfield would be extremely unbalanced. So sacrifices have to be made.
It is something to ponder, anyway. Especially when looking at his numbers over the past couple of weeks.
In the 2-1 win over Crystal Palace, Szoboszlai was replaced after 74 minutes having created zero chances and winning just four of his 12 duels. He did create two chances in the win over Sheffield United, and he scored the second in stoppage time. Perhaps coincidentally, this was a game Gravenberch didn’t start.
Liverpool beat Fulham 4-3 at the start of December and Szoboszlai, despite all of the chaos, created just a single chance. He was replaced after 62 minutes having struggled to really impose himself on the game.
In the draw with City, Szoboszlai created one chance and completed 88% of his passes before he was subbed after 73 minutes.
Again, this was a game Gravenberch didn’t start.
The Hungary talisman hasn‘t been at his best but it isn’t solely his fault. He’s had to adapt his role and sacrifice parts of his game to accommodate others in what is quickly becoming a high turnover position for Liverpool over the past month or so.
It is harsh to judge him on these showings when this is far from the real Szoboszlai. It is up to Klopp to figure out how to get the best out of him, just as he was earlier in the campaign.