This profile was originally published in the Scouted Football Handbook: Volume I, our first printed Handbook, released in February 2019. The print version has now sold out, but you can find the digital edition avaialble for £3 here.
DOMINIK SZOBOSZLAI IS IN A GENERATION
DOMINIK SZOBOSZLAI'S CAREER IN REVIEW
In this social media infatuated world which lusts for virality and craves hype, it does not take much for an individual to become a star. In Dominik Szoboszlai’s case, it took just two free-kicks.
After losing their initial group game to Israel, Hungary under-17’s had to beat Russia to keep qualification hopes alive for the summer’s Euros, yet with six minutes to go trailed 1-0 and looked bereft of ideas. Enter Dominik Szoboszlai.
He was already known by keen Hungarian football fans as an emerging a talent by March 2017. Just five months earlier, the then 16-year-old had played a starring role in helping both Hungary under-19’s and under-17’s reach the Elite Round of the Euro qualifiers.
At club level, he had scored 36 goals in 34 games over 2015/16 and 2016/17 for MTK Budapest under-16s and under-17s and Fonix-Gold FC under-17s and under-19s.
His performance against Russia though, was something else. Stepping up for a free kick in the 74th minute, Szoboszlai nonchalantly yet emphatically whipped it to the top corner. Nine minutes later, three minutes into added time, with qualification on the line, he did it again. A star was born.
Three days later, the hype grew. With Hungary needing to beat Norway in the final group game, hope appeared to be dissipating as Kristian Kovacs cut in from the right-hand-side of the penalty box and slid a ball across to Szoboszlai.
With ten Norwegians stood between him and the goal, Szoboszlai opted to shoot. Struck perfectly, the ball exploded off his foot, nestling into the far-left corner; a postage stamp. It was a strike that would have eaten any goalkeeper at any level.
With that, the 18-year-old emerged as the name on every Hungarian football fans’ lips.
DOMINIK SZOBOSZLAI'S STYLE OF PLAY
Caicedo’s physical profile the easiest part of his game to describe. He’s an absolute dynamo; if they wired him up to the grid they could probably power half of Ecuador.
He has a good turn of pace and never stops running. He looks a little lightly built, and this can show from time to time when situations call for a little more physicality; that being said, he turns 19 in November, so it’s to be expected that he’ll fill out over time. That physicality is an important part of his game too.
Technically speaking, Caicedo is solid, if not spectacular. I don’t mean that turn of phrase to do him a disservice. He has a good range of passing and he often mixes it up well.
While players his age sometimes feel the need to force the issue when on the ball; he usually moves the ball on quickly and makes a run into another position to receive it, but from time to time he tries something a little more expansive, playing a longer pass to progress the ball or find a teammate in a dangerous area.
When space opens up for him, he needs no invitation to drive forward with the ball, and he offers the ability to either win fouls in midfield, or progress the ball past a defensive line and open up space, both valuable tools for a midfielder to have.
Caicedo also offers a goal threat from range, on the occasions where he does get further forward.
All that being said, he still seems raw at times. His close control can be inconsistent and aesthetically he can look clumsy at times, although that may be inevitable with a player who is the very embodiment of all action.
This clumsiness is most easily spotted when opponents dribble towards Caicedo’s weak side, an observer doesn’t have to watch him for a long time to see stretch with his right leg to an opponent on the opposite side of his body.
Given the regularity with which that kind of defensive action can give away fouls, there’s no doubt that any prospective coach will look to correct that from his game quickly.
WHAT DOES THE FUTURE HOLD FOR MOISÉS CAICEDO?
Even considering the sins of youth he needs to do away with, Luvumbo is an exciting young player, with great potential and a very strong attitude.
“He’s a quiet guy, who works hard every single day,” remarked Angolan journalist Avelino Kiala in a recent interview.
“Despite his age, he has complete control over his emotions and just loves a challenge.”
It is also because of these personality traits that so many big clubs showed interest in him.
The list is long, ranging from Manchester City to West Ham, Boavista, Anderlecht and even Flamengo, among others.
The young winger went as far as to have a trial with Manchester United in 2019 but, in the end, it was Serie A outfit Cagliari that had him pen down a five-year deal in September 2020.
As far as the national team is concerned, he can be quite confident about his spot in the squad.
Last year, Pedro Gonçalves was appointed head coach and the Portuguese knows Luvumbo very well, having coached him in Angola’s under-17 team; nor is he afraid to bet on young players, as proved by Pablo Cambuta, Maestro, Domingos Andrade and the rest of the group of 15-year-olds he debuted at under-17 level.
Moreover, Gonçalves heavily relies on a 4-2-3-1 scheme with wide wingers, perfect for the Serie A newboy.
In Italy, his aggressive and very vertical idea of football could prove either a blessing or a curse for the young winger.
Eusebio Di Francesco often deploys a 4-3-3 formation, but has proven multiple times to be not an absolute integralist and to be able to adjust his system in order for it to suit the men at his disposal.
In any case, his tactics heavily rely on the wingers, who have the freedom to cut back and carry the ball forward in attacking transitions, as well as to converge towards the box as soon as the centre-forward is tasked with playmaking responsibilities.
Luvumbo might fit very well into such a system, and his dynamism is absolutely suitable for a coach that asks for swiftness in attack and requires players on the same flank to continuously interchange positions.
However, out of possession is where we can imagine Di Francesco losing his cool more often, with the Angolan always willing to rush forward no matter what, whereas the coach demands a quick switch to a 4-5-1 setup, with the wingers instrumental to close ranks.
In a nutshell, there are very few doubts that Luvumbo’s technical and physical qualities can be useful to the former Roma manager.
If anything, some worries loom over his ability to channel this incredible explosiveness and desire to dribble past the whole world into tactical awareness that require a level of concentration much higher than what he was used to in his native land.
“He has a lot of quality, and he’s very skilful, but he’s more used to playing by himself rather than with the others,” Di Francesco himself recently declared.
Zito is working hard to get rid of this shortcoming and make Angola proud of him.