Neil Jones has compared the initial impact made by Dominik Szoboszlai at Liverpool to an Anfield favourite from the 2000s.
The Hungarian has taken no time at all to settle in on Merseyside since his £60m move from RB Leipzig in July (BBC Sport), drawing praise from many observers and scoring his first goal for the Reds in the 3-0 win over Aston Villa on Sunday.
Speaking exclusively to Empire of the Kop’s Substack, the journalist drew comparisons between the 22-year-old’s first few games for LFC and a player harking back to Rafael Benitez’s time in charge of the club.
Jones said of Szoboszlai: “To be honest, his kind of impact reminds me a little bit of (and it’s a different type of player and era, of course) Xabi Alonso when he first came to Liverpool in 2004.
“In his first couple of games, it just felt like he took the team up a level; he’d pass the ball a bit sharper, snap into tackles a bit stronger… it didn’t take long for people to realise ‘oh my god, we’ve got a class player!’
“I think it’s very similar with Szoboszlai. You can see he’s really in tune with what Anfield likes and what Jurgen Klopp expects of him. Keep him fit, keep him firing.
“There’ll be bumps to come in the road ahead I’m sure, there’ll be some tough away games and things like that, but you’re looking at Szoboszlai at 22 years of age and the sort of money they’ve paid – you have to say Liverpool have got in a real good one there.”
For Szoboszlai to already be eliciting comparisons to Alonso is an extremely good portent of things to come from the Hungary playmaker.
During his five years at Liverpool under Benitez, the Spanish midfielder (now Bayer Leverkusen coach) mesmerised the Kop with his sumptuous vision and range of passing, while also offering the tenacity to get stuck into tackles and win duels regularly (lfchistory.net).
A member of the 2005 Champions League-winning side, the now 41-year-old netted 18 times in 210 appearances for the Reds (Transfermarkt), with two of his goals coming from inside his own half of the pitch.
Alonso has hands down been one of the best midfielders LFC have had in the Premier League era, and if Szoboszlai goes on to sprinkle as much stardust as Anfield as the Spaniard did in his prime, he’ll depart the club as something of a legend.
Like Jones says, it’s still very early days in the Hungarian’s Liverpool career and there will surely be testing moments along the way, but everything up to this point suggests that he’ll meet those challenges head-on and overcome them to become an integral figure in Klopp’s first XI.