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Liverpool transfer claim silenced as £60m midfielder set to benefit from restart

Dominik Szoboszlai of Liverpool during the Premier League match against Wolverhampton Wanderers at Anfield on May 19 2024
-Credit: (Image: James Baylis - AMA/Getty Images)


If ever there was a season of two halves, then it was experienced by Dominik Szoboszlai during his debut campaign at Liverpool.

It was then temporary sporting director Jorg Schmadtke who led the move to trigger Szoboszlai's release clause at RB Leipzig last June and making him part of the Reds' midfield overhaul only a matter of days after first registering a serious interest.

At £60million, the Hungary international didn't come cheap, the fourth-most expensive player in Liverpool's transfer history behind Darwin Nunez, Virgil van Dijk and Alisson Becker.

End-of-season ratings:

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But after an encouraging warm-up programme hampered only slightly by injury, Szoboszlai soon prompted suggestions Reds had completed one of the canniest purchases of the transfer window.

The confidence in which the midfielder assumed the number eight shirt - made iconic by one of his inspirations, Steven Gerrard - was also shown on the pitch as the newcomer found the Premier League very much to his liking. Performances against Chelsea, Bournemouth and Newcastle United indicated he was a player who assumed responsibility when the going got tough - the Reds went down to 10 men in the latter two matches - and his thunderous strike in the win the following week over Aston Villa served as a calling card.

Better was to come with a thumping effort in the League Cup triumph over Leicester City and a brace of assists against Nottingham Forest. By that point, Szoboszlai had appeared in every minute of the opening 10 Premier League matches.

However, the reality of featuring in the most intense league in the world soon began to hit home. Substituted after a poor performance at Luton Town, Szoboszlai then completed the full 90 minutes in the top flight just three more times until a period of indifferent form culminated in a hamstring complaint against Newcastle on New Year's Day.

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Szoboszlai wasn't quite the same again after that. He scored and assisted in two games on his return but later admitted he had rushed back too soon, aggravating the injury and then missing for more than a month, a spell which included the League Cup final win over Chelsea.

While initially lively when back fit again - scoring in both Europa League games against Sparta Prague - Szoboszlai soon lost his way, the nadir coming during a poor second-half showing from the bench in the shock reverse at home to Atalanta. Indeed, he started only one of the final seven Premier League games with four of his substitute appearances only coming in the 81st minute or later.

Reflecting on his season, he admitted it was harder than he had anticipated. However, still only 23, Szoboszlai very much has time on his side and his overall numbers - seven goals and four assists from 45 appearances - were a healthy improvement on Liverpool's creative output from midfield in previous years.

If anything, the Hungarian's excellent start to his Anfield career was both a blessing and a curse, setting unrealistic expectations for a first year in England. The forthcoming Euros will provide a welcome distraction and offer Szoboszlai the chance of a restart and refresh. Both club and player will hope he is only just getting started at Liverpool.

End-of-season rating: 7