9th October 2017. By Edward Stratmann.
There’s certainly no shortage of talent in RB Leipzig’s ranks.
Wherever you look in the squad, whether it’s the Liverpool bound Naby Keita, Diego Demme and the creative Emil Forsberg driving the side forward from midfield, Willi Orban, Dayot Upamecano, Ibrahima Konate and Marcel Halstenberg keeping things sure at the back, or Timo Werner and Yussuf Poulsen leading the attacking line.
While that’s just naming a few of their stars, their dynamic attacker, Marcel Sabitzer, is definitely another one to add to the list.
Born in Graz, the Austrian comes from good pedigree, for his father was an Austrian international during his days as a professional footballer. It didn’t take long for the youngster to make a name for himself, though, as he rose through the ranks rapidly in his home country.
In 2010, at the age of just 16, Sabitzer’s tremendous talent ensured he made his senior debut for Admira Wacker. Thereafter, he quickly went about proving himself at the top level, as he went onto play over 40 first team games with Admira Wacker. While he was a regular fixture in the Austria youth national teams, his eye-catching form eventually even earned him a call up to the senior setup in 2012 against Romania.
Rapid Wien then jumped in and snapped up the muscular maestro, where his progression continued in an similarly upward trajectory. Putting in some fantastic performances in the capital, he alerted the attention of the highly ambitious RB Leipzig, who were then in the German second division, having risen from the fifth tier.
So after a year and a half with Wien, Sabitzer was off again, with Leipzig recognising his gifts and securing his services for just £2 million. A loan to sister club, Red Bull Salzburg, ensued, where he was given a brilliant opportunity to continue his development within the confines of their excellent facilities. He didn’t waste his chance, either, fitting in splendidly into Adi Hutter’s plans, as he played a key role in their successful season, which saw Salzburg win a league and cup double. Moreover, getting valuable minutes in the Europa League was another crucial learning curve for him.
Returning to his parent club in RB Leipzig for the 2015-2016 campaign in the 2. Bundesliga, Sabitzer was an instrumental figure in Ralf Rangnick’s men’s historic promotion to the top flight. Chiming in with eight goals and five assists from his 32 league appearances offered an apt depiction of his influence.
The 23-year-old then replicated his feats of eight goals and five assists in his 32 Bundesliga proper matches, impressively adjusting to the rigours of what is a very demanding league. The fact the upstarts finished a sensational second in the league, thus guaranteeing them Champions league football this season, was a brilliant testament to the club’s high octane, well designed philosophy, Ralph Hasenhuttl’s coaching job and the players’ ability to execute.
With Liverpool named among the interested parties in signing him in the summer, Sabitzer quashed any potential of him leaving the Red Bulls by explaining how he harbours no desire to leave at present. “I feel totally comfortable here, the city is very nice. The people are friendly and there is a huge euphoria around the club. At the moment, I can not imagine anything better,” he said.
Moreover, his strong relationship with now sporting director and tactical genius, Rangnick, only strengthens his want to stay put and learn from his former coach.
The versatile Sabitzer, who’s capable of playing as a forward, out wide or even as an attacking midfielder, has continued to display his qualities this term too. Already running out nine times for Leipzig, including two Champions League outings, he’s notably bagged two goals and three assists to start his crusade off promisingly.
With Leipzig currently sitting in equal second place in the league with Bayern Munich on 14 points, five being leaders Borussia Dortmund, Sabitzer looks set to be an integral component for his team, not just now, but in the future. Technically sound, positionally astute and a masterful contributor on the defensive end, Sabitzer’s undoubtedly one to watch looking ahead.
Upon recounting his early days playing in Austria, Sabitzer has every reason to look back on his meteoric rise and be extremely proud of his accomplishments in the game so far. Blessed with so many of the essential attributes needed to one day be a bonafide star, seeing how the next phases in his career pan out should serve to be just as interesting.
More by Edward at Licence to Roam.