An unknown prospect lies ahead for Liverpool as FC RB Salzburg visit Anfield for a Champions League clash that marks the first official game between the two sides.
When looking through the Austrian side’s squad to find players who might represent an ideal transfer target for the current European champions, you’d be forgiven for expecting to come up short.
But Die Mozartstädter boast a plethora of young talent across their squad as they blood a new generation of footballers to possibly join their sister club RasenBallsport Leipzig in Germany.
The Reds have benefitted from this system before. Current stars Sadio Mané and Naby Keïta both got their big breaks in Europe with Salzburg after brief spells in France, proving that the youth system here is good enough to produce world-class footballers.
In terms of the current crop, master marksman Erling Braut Håland is the obvious stand-out. He has 17 goals in 10 games so far this season — including a superb hat-trick on his Champions League debut against KRC Genk two weeks ago.
However, the Norwegian is a doubt for the trip to Anfield as he recovers from an illness. This leaves creative attacking midfielder Dominik Szoboszlai as arguably the biggest threat to Liverpool on the night — and the talented youngster that the Reds should look into signing.
As reigning champions in this competition and having won each of their opening seven Premier League games, the squad at Jürgen Klopp’s disposal is clearly one of the strongest around and has very few weaknesses.
If anything, though, the Merseysiders could do with another attack-minded midfield player. Keïta and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain are great options but have had injury issues. In reality, Liverpool are yet to replace Philippe Coutinho — who departed the club in January 2018 — in terms of a midfielder who can both create and score goals.
With five goals and six assists in 20 games last season and three of each in 10 already this term, Szoboszlai could be the man to fill that gap. A full Hungarian international, he has mastered the craft of playing in half-spaces and creating opportunities from nothing.
The son of former footballer Zsolt, he has been nurtured by his own father from a young age with the aim of bypassing the traditional academy system and fast-tracking his career.
Having made his national team debut aged 16, cemented his place as a first-team regular at Salzburg and attracted interest from the likes of Arsenal and Juventus, it’s safe to say that this approach has worked well.
Now, he looks ready to make the step up to the big leagues. His creativity would be an asset to Liverpool, as would his ability to play in a central role but also on either flank. Still only 18 years old, he has a lot of time and potential for improvement as well — making him a wise investment for a club looking to build for the future.
With the Anfield club’s sophisticated scouting system, there is no doubt that a talent like Szoboszlai is already on Michael Edwards’ radar. A strong performance in the two group matches against the Reds will no doubt make them look closer at the lanky teenager.
The closer they look, the more they could be convinced that it might just be worth taking a chance on the Hungarian.