Szoboszlai: The Robin to Haaland's Batman at Salzburg

Dominik Szoboszlai Erling Braut Haaland RB Salzburg 2019-20Getty Images

What is better than having one of Europe’s most highly-rated teenage talents who routinely puts in eye-catching performances that defy their lack of experience, leading to them being coveted by the world’s biggest clubs?

Having two such players.

That is the position Red Bull Salzburg find themselves in, because while the footballing world has already fallen in love with Erling Braut Haaland, Dominik Szoboszlai has been quietly impressing alongside the Norwegian.

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The Robin to Haaland’s Batman, playmaker Szoboszlai is far smaller in stature than his imposing team-mate, but their relationship within the final third has been key to Salzburg’s dominance domestically so far this season, as well as playing a key factor in them being well in the running for a place in the Champions League knockout stages as they prepare to face Napoli on Tuesday.

“Erl is a great player with a huge character,” Szoboszlai said of Haaland – who now has 22 goals in 16 matches in what is fast becoming a record-breaking campaign – when he spoke to Goal in October.

“I have no doubts about his future. For me he is, more importantly, a great team-mate and a big friend.”

That relationship has unsurprisingly led to reports that some of their many suitors are considering buying Haaland and Szoboszlai as a pair.

Arsenal, who see Szoboszlai as a potential long-term replacement for Aaron Ramsey, are one such club, while Serie A sides Juventus and Inter will likely be watching closely with Salzburg in Italy this week.

But if everyone now knows what Haaland would bring to a new team – goals, goals and more goals – then what about his Hungarian sidekick?

Szoboszlai Haaland GFX

“A lot of people say that my style of play is close to Sergej Milinkovic-Savic and Toni Kroos. It is a great thing to hear that,” Szoboszlai told Goal after he was named in the NxGn list of the world's top 50 teenage talents alongside Haaland in March.

Having spent time at Salzburg’s sister club FC Liefering in the Austrian second tier, Szoboszlai made his league debut for what was then Marco Rose’s side a year and a day ago in November 2018.

Driving forward from midfield at every opportunity while also showcasing his wicked ability from set-pieces, he would finish the campaign with three goals and four assists in 16 league appearances.

This season, with Haaland now fully established in the first team alongside him, the 19-year-old has continued to flourish, scoring four goals – including a first in Europe during the 6-2 thrashing of Genk on Champions League matchday one – and laying on as many assists in 14 matches.

He has spent the season playing predominantly on the left-hand side of midfield, though he is just as comfortable on the right. 

It is that kind of flexibility, coupled with his obvious natural ability, that has made him such an attractive prospect to Europe's elite.

Szoboszlai, though, insists that he is not thinking about leaving Salzburg at the moment.

Dominik Szoboszlai RB Salzburg 2019-20

“I am not really looking that far ahead,” he said last month. “I am focusing on the next game and try to develop as much as I can from day to day.

“That is my absolute priority now. All of the other stuff belongs to my agent. I am lucky enough to be able to focus only on playing football.”

If the early signs are anything to go by, then that focus is allowing Szoboszlai to flourish, and though he may not have the famous father or the eye for goal that Haaland possesses, he has every chance of becoming just as big a star.

He may even do so alongside his good friend, of course.

After all, every great hero needs a trusty sidekick, and in Szoboszlai, Haaland has just that.