RB Salzburg has an outstanding recent history of homing and developing some of the top prospects from around the globe, when looking through their former players you see players now playing in the top divisions all across Europe.
The revolving door of talent is sensational, Sadio Mane had 2 great seasons in Austria before his move to the Premier League, Bayern Munich duo Marcel Sabitzer and Dayot Upamecano came through the RB system. Erling Haaland played just 16 games before he got a move to Dortmund.
And most recently Mergim Berisha and Patson Daka moving to Fenerbache and Leicester City leaving the forward spots open for the next top talent, Benjamin Sesko is next in line to step up and prove he’s the next top forward in football, but can he follow the blueprint?
It would be easy and somewhat lazy to just compare Sesko to Haaland, but the stats show Sesko could be on a Haaland like trajectory. Just watching Sesko you can see he has a different style to the Norwegian. While Haaland is more powerful and dynamic, Sesko has silky footwork and operates in different areas of the field. but they both score goals with good efficiency.
Sesko operates a lot on the centre-left side areas of the pitch, from watching him it’s clear he is far more comfortable playing from the right side of his body and needs to work on his weaker left foot to be able to contribute in all areas and situations.
To sum up his playstyle would be a player who can stretch the pitch and go in-behind, but likes to get involved in deep link-up play and finds good areas in the final 3rd to receive the ball to then be in a scoring situation. He has shown promise of being a complete striker from his passing game and goal variety.
At 6’4″ he has a lean frame, which in time will fill out into his body and really improve his strength, he isn’t clunky in his movement he turns well and has good pace to be a threat when running in behind the defence.
He shields and protects the ball with his body well, has good balance, and doesn’t go to the ground easy. His leap is something that I expect to improve and will really enhance his aerial game when he does grow into his body and fills out to his prime physical shape.
An obvious strength of Sesko was his link-up play, he is very aware of the players around him and has good quality with the pass to set up the next phase of attack. His 1st-time link-up is often a flicked/flair pass in the inside area of the pitch – the overuse of flair flicks potentially highlights technical flaws that as he develops I expect a much stronger link-up play using better techniques.
The video below shows a flicked link-up pass that drags a defender out of the structure and opened up play in behind. He has shown this very link-up play in all 3rds of the pitch, an attribute that Harry Kane is one of the very best at.
A typical 6’4″+ striker doesn’t have silky footwork and good control, but Sesko is one of the exceptions with solid technical ability but even better appliance and understanding of the game – his quick feet give him the ability to run at players and create his own chances.
His numbers compared to the rest of Europe’s 6’3″+ strikers is something you have to take in and decide what it means. But from the basic dribbling stats it’s clear he is happy to get on the ball, willing to take players on, and also his hold-up play to build from back to goal has a good base to it.
The most important attribute to all striker’s game, the ability to score goals – Sesko outscored his xG by 5 goals last season, scoring 20 goals in 29 appearances and shoed a good variety to his scoring and techniques.
In the 20 goals, he scored placed finishes, powerful 1st-time strikes, chips, tap-ins, headers, and composing nature in his 1v1 finishing and the ability to send the keeper the wrong with his eyes and body language.
The goal below shows himself getting into great positions, a good touch that set the shot up as well as great setting body position, composure and timing to be able to chip the keeper and score the goal.
When watching Sesko you can see attributes that remind you of some of the top strikers in football, the question is can he develop and put it all together to be a top striker himself? It’s unlikely we will see a Haaland-like rise, he’s yet to really get going in the league so far this season.
Sesko is very much a wait-and-see type of player and someone to keep an eye on during an interesting season in his development. Watch the video below to see what the Slovenian is all about from the 2020/2021 season.