Who is Marcel Sabitzer?

Marcel Sabitzer

Manchester United‘s latest signing recently made his debut for the club in the dying minutes of a match against Crystal Palace on February 4th 2023. The Austrian international arrived on loan from Bayern Munich in the final hours of the Winter Transfer window. Sabitzer will be on loan for the remainder of the season with no option of a buy. But, if Sabitzer plays well for United then a buy is surely always negotiable and the player would be keen to say if things go well.

The arrival of Sabitzer was in part due to the injury suffered by Christian Eriksen after a horrible challenge from the FAT LARD Andy Carroll. Meanwhile, Scott McTominay is also sidelined by an injury so United needed to address their midfield issues. What makes this ‘panic’ buy so incredible is that even though it is technically a ‘panic’ buy, it doesn’t feel like one. Marcel Sabitzer is a quality player hungry for minutes and he’s arriving essentially on a free. Additionally, Sabitzer plays very similarly to Christian Eriksen with an even arguably better knack for scoring goals from midfield.

Marcel Sabitzer is a top quality player at a prime age with a point to prove. If United had acquired him as a transfer in summer it would’ve been regarded as decent business.

Origin Story

Marcel Sabitzer is the son of Herfried Sabitzer a former Austrian international footballer. Sabitzer. 28 years old, stands at 5 feet 10 inches and weighs approximately 168 pounds. The Austrian midfielder began his career in Austria with Rapid Wien. He then joined RB Leipzig in 2014 and was loaned immediately to RB Salzburg for one season. In Salzburg Sabitzer managed 27 goals and 27 assists in 51 appearances.

Then in 2015 Sabitzer came back to RB Leipzig where he would go on to become one of the bright young talents in European football.

RB Leipzig

Marcel Sabitzer’s first season with RB Leipzig was an instant success as he managed 8 goals in 34 appearances as a midfielder and was vital to Leipzig’s build up play in attack. Sabitzer would go on to be the leader in midfield for Leipzig and score 9 goals in his second season. Then in his final season, 2019-20, Sabitzer scored 16 goals with 11 assists in all competitions. When Julian Nagelsmann left for Bayern after the 2020 season, Sabitzer followed his manager. Speaking on Sabitzer Nagelsmann has said:

“I have always said I want more goal threat from midfield. He clearly took that both literally and personally. He’s a very important player for us.”

Julian Nagelsmann

In his time with Leipzig, Sabitzer displayed his versatility in positions by playing as a central midfielder, a winger, an attacking midfielder and even a second striker. The world also witnessed his ability to score form distance and finish off free kick opportunities. Check out the video below for some of Sabitzer’s finest strikes at Leipzig.

Bayern Munich

When Nagelsmann left RB Leipzig for Bayern after the 2020 season, he made it a point to take Sabitzer with him. Sabitzer has had some terrific games for the German giants but it hasn’t all gone to plan. Unfortunately, Sabitzer has only managed 20 appearances as a starer to go with 2 goals and 2 assists. With the likes of Leon Goretzka and Joshua Kimmich being German internationals and staples in that Bayern midfield, opportunities for Sabitzer to break through are few if any. Frustrated by his lack of playing time and the unfortunate injury to Christian Eriksen, Sabitzer took the opportunity to move to Old Trafford when United came knocking.

What can United expect?

Manchester United are getting top professional and a player who will surely surprise many. It would be amazing to have both Eriksen and Sabitzer available in the squad but Sabitzer is capable of masking Eriksen’s absence quite well. United will need him to as well. When asked about Eriksen, Diogo Dalot said:

“As soon as we see Eriksen is going to have a lot of time on the ball, that’s when everything starts to be more dynamic up front.”

Diogo Dalot

Eriksen has been a vital part of United’s resurgence under Eric ten Hag as a creative play maker, a ball progression expert and his ability to control the ball in midfield. Sabitzer has all of those qualities and has an amazing knack for goalscoring from set pieces and distance. Unlike Eriksen, Sabitzer does prefer to play the ball forward quickly rather than control in midfield. Only time will tell if that will make much of a difference to the way United play.

Work Work Work

Marcel Sabitzer, in his career, is in the top 5% of players completing final third passes and also ranks high in passes completed. He is in the top half of midfielders with regard to goal and assist totals as well. Sabitzer’s strengths include his long range shooting, free kicks, one time passing/flicks and his through balls. He also gives 100% for all 90 minutes no matter what.

Carl Anka for the Athletic wrote this about Sabitzer, “He runs until everyone else is exhausted, and then he keeps running and exploits new spaces on the field that have opened up for him.” (Anka, 2023). Sabitzer has incredible work rate and knowledge of the game. Even in the short 10 plus minutes Sabitzer played against Palace, with United down to 10 men, Sabitzer put his work rate on display. Eric ten Hag said after the match:

“He came in, he played very well, he understands the game and it is good to see.”

Eric ten Hag

As with any signing, the question as to weather or not his time will be regarded as successful cannot be determined yet but the signs thus far are very good.

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