'Worst player on the pitch' - Dominik Szoboszlai makes honest admission about Liverpool criticism

Dominik Szoboszlai has conceded he has been unable to live up to the bright start to his Liverpool career after reflecting on his first season at the club.

The Hungarian joined the Reds in a £60m move from RB Leipzig last summer and enjoyed a brilliant beginning to life at Anfield. However, a hamstring injury suffered against Newcastle United on New Year’s Day, before a subsequent recurrence, derailed his progress.

Szoboszlai returned from his latest lay-off at the start of March, only to struggle to rediscover his best form from earlier in the campaign. With a number of Jurgen Klopp’s squad guilty of the same after injury, his return has coincided with Liverpool’s title-challenge collapsing and premature exits from both the Europa League and FA Cup.

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And the 23-year-old has admitted he might have set the bar too high for himself as he explained how he has had to adapt to Premier League football.

“This good start gave me a big boost,” Szoboszlai admitted to MLSZ TV. “Perhaps I set the bar too high, because there were certain matches in which I couldn’t bring out the best in myself.

“Or times when you don’t play well and in some people’s eyes, you’re the worst player on the pitch. But it’s not a problem, because we get through these things together.

“You’re not here to bob around in mid-table or fight to stay in the division, but to go for the Premier League title. I can only say that this (the Premier League) is quicker. Here, you don’t have as much time to think as in the Bundesliga. Here, you really need to know what you’d like to do with the ball before you receive it, because if you don’t know, you pretty much have no chance (of achieving it).

“So this is what I’d emphasise. If I’m in the centre of midfield, there are more players there (than in wider areas), so I have to be more aware of where everyone is. I’d still say the centre of midfield (is my favoured position) though.”

Boasting seven goals and four assists from 43 appearances to date, Szoboslzai’s loss of form in recent weeks has seen him lose his place in the Liverpool starting XI. He has only started two of the Reds’ last seven matches.

While he is hungry to stand out and make the most of any opportunities that fall his way in a bid to regain a starting berth, the Hungary captain acknowledges it is better to just focus on playing his own game with squad management part and parcel of life at Anfield regardless of form.

“It’s probably in your head that I’ve got my opportunity and I want to take it,” he said. “So I need to show something extra special so I keep my place for the next match. It doesn’t work like this, though, and certainly I needed time to realise this. The more clearly you realise this and try to play your own game, the better.

“You’ll more easily settle into adult football and will soon adapt if you don't attempt anything too ambitious, but instead play passes and release the ball to players in space, as well as pressing the ball, defending, attacking, giving assists, and scoring goals. This sounds simple but is actually very difficult.”

Darwin Nunez has made headlines this week after deleting all but one of his Liverpool-related images on Instagram and blocking some fan accounts on Twitter after his own loss of form, with such actions seemingly in response to online response.

But in the face of outside criticism, Szoboszlai insists he only accepts critiques of his performances from manager Klopp, his coaches and senior team-mates, and his own father.

“I accept critiques of my play from (my father) and from my coaches too,” he said. “So these two or three people are the ones I’m always ready to listen to.

“Naturally, that goes for an older player too, if there’s one in the team who tries to help, not necessarily in regard to things that shouldn’t be done that way but rather that I should focus on certain aspects of my football life and not just those to do with games, but also aspects such as what I do before, during, and after training.

“At the start, it was Trent (Alexander-Arnold) and it still is him, but as I’ve settled into the team, I can say it’s (Mohamed) Salah too. I’ve found common ground with everyone, so I can talk with everyone. Everyone gets on well with each other and although there aren’t many group events, when there is, everyone is there.”