Both the English Premier League team Liverpool FC and the German Bundesliga team RB Leipzig made the official announcement of Dominik Szoboszlai’s transfer on Sunday, 2 July. By then, all major sports news outlets confidently reported that Liverpool had in fact triggered the €70 million (£60 million) release clause in the 22-year-old Hungarian midfielder’s contract with Leipzig. He was even photographed getting off a private jet at a Liverpool airport by an astute paparazzo on Friday, so there was no doubt about the transfer rumours’ validity.
this is the highest transfer fee ever paid for a Hungarian football player.
The previous record was also held by Szoboszlai: RB Leipzig bought him from Red Bull Salzburg for €22 million in January 2021. This record has now been increased more than three-fold by him.
In an interview with the Hungarian sports daily Nemzeti Sport, he had this to say about the recent monumental development in his career:
‘I want to go forward step by step. I’m certain I’ll need time to get used to the pace of the Premier League games, to the playing style of Liverpool, and to the managing style of [Liverpool manager] Jürgen Klopp. Getting playtime is the most important, just like at any other place and, of course, I would like to score as many goals and give as many assists as I can, and have myself accepted by the fans.’
In an act of extraordinary trust, Liverpool FC allowed Szoboszlai to take the #8 jersey, formerly worn by the Champions League winner club legend and England international Steven Gerrard,
who spent 17 years playing for the team. This is no small responsibility: for example, the other recent signing, Argentine midfielder and recent World Cup winner Alexis Mac Allister refused to take the jersey number despite being offered to him, as he did not want the extra pressure to live up to its legacy at Liverpool.
Gerrard was one of Szoboszlai’s childhood heroes. He even has a quote by the Liverpool legend tattooed on his forearm. The quote says: ‘Talent is a divine blessing, but without incredible will and humility, it is worth nothing.’
Liverpool is one of the most successful and popular football clubs in the world. They have won the English championship title 19 times, and the Champions League title six times in their history. However, they failed to qualify for the Champions League (unlike the club Szoboszlai is leaving for them, RB Leipzig), having finished fifth in the Premier League this year, and thus they will be playing in the second-tier European club competition Europa League next season.
Former Hungarian Players at Liverpool
Dominik Szoboszlai is not the first Hungarian football player in Liverpool jersey. Alas, the two of our countrymen who have played for the giant club are both regarded as disappointments. Midfielder István Kozma joined in 1992, and only played six league games in his year-and-a-half stint with the club, scoring no goals. Ádám Bogdán was signed as a second-choice goalkeeper in 2015. However, when he did get the chance to prove himself, he fell short, conceding a goal after his mistake early into his Premier League debut with the club. He only ended up playing two league games for them.
A handful of Hungarian players, such as Péter Gulácsi, Krisztián Németh, and András Simon, did play for the Liverpool youth and reserve teams—however, none of them made it to the Liverpool first team. Gulácsi and Németh went on to have very successful careers in Germany and the United States, respectively.
Dominik Szoboszlai’s Exceptional Career So Far
The young Hungarian soccer talent was born on 25 October 2000, in Székesfehérvár, Fejér County. He was 15 when he joined the youth team of RB Salzburg in Austria, then soon got the chance to test himself in adult professional football for their reserve team Liefering in the Austrian second division at just age 16. He was 17 when he made his debut for Red Bull Salzburg in the Austrian Bundesliga.
In 2021, he signed with the German Bundesliga side RB Leipzig, also part of the Red Bull family of professional sports teams. However, he could not make an appearance for the rest of the 2020–2021 season due to a stubborn case of periostitis. Thankfully, he still got to have a fruitful Bundesliga career, having played a total of 62 games in the competition for RB Leipzig, while scoring 12 goals and making 16 assists. He also won the German Cup twice in back-to-back years, in 2022 and 2023.
Szoboszlai made his first appearance for the Hungarian National Team in March 2019, in a 2–0 loss against Slovakia in the European Qualifiers. So far, he has 32 caps and has scored 7 goals for Hungary.
Last autumn, he was chosen to be the National Team captain by his own teammates, which is a rare achievement for a footballer at his young age.
Undoubtedly, he is the most exciting talent Hungarian football has seen in a long time. Perhaps the closest comparison would be Balázs Dzsudzsák, who had a very good run with the Dutch top division side PSV Eindhoven in his mid-20s. However, in a questionable career move, he decided to sign with the Russian team Anzhi Makhachkala in 2011 (which was heavily funded by Russian oligarch Suleyman Kerimov at the time), disappointing Hungarian football fans immensely.
By contrast, Szoboszlai’s expensive signing by the top Premier League club Liverpool has already put him on a level of European football no Hungarian player has been in a long, long time.