Dominik Szoboszlai has become a firm favourite among Liverpool fans already since his move from Leipzig, taking over from Jordan Henderson.
Since his £60 million switch from the Bundesliga over the summer, Szoboszlai has emerged as a key player in Jurgen Klopp‘s midfield.
The 22-year-old has played the full 90 minutes in all five games so far, scoring once, with Liverpool unbeaten in their start to the Premier League campaign.
He has made the transition appear seamless, with many of the belief that he is an upgrade on Henderson in his right-sided midfield role.
With the captain now plying his trade in the Saudi Pro League – where a recent viral clip of Fabinho getting nutmegged at walking pace showed the standard – Szoboszlai has taken up the mantle with ease.
The Hungarian is, of course, 11 years Henderson’s junior, but one statistic has summed up the all-action impact he has made.
In his first five starts for Liverpool, Szoboszlai has contested 50 duels, per FotMob, which is 30 more than Henderson in his first five league starts last season.
Put simply, a duel is defined by Opta as a “50-50 contest between two players of opposing sides in the match,” which can include tackles, dribbles and aerial challenges.
Szoboszlai has won 24 of his duels (48%), either on the ground or in the air, while Henderson won 11 of his attempted 20 (55%), with a higher success rate.
But the sheer multitude he has been involved in shows the influence Szoboszlai is having on the Reds regaining their intensity – which was so lacking last season.
In the 2-1 win at Newcastle, Szoboszlai was involved in a remarkable 20 duels – as many as Henderson in the meetings with Fulham, Man United, Bournemouth, Newcastle and Brighton last season combined.
It has been an outstanding start from the new No. 8, and the hope will be that he can go from strength to strength in the coming months.
This should be a sign of things to come from Henderson’s successor in midfield.