RB Leipzig forward Benjamin Sesko had been heavily linked with a move to the Premier League before signing a new contract on the eve of Euro 2024. Could he eventually follow in the footsteps of another former Red Bull Salzburg forward in Erling Haaland?

Benjamin Sesko, the 21-year-old Slovenian prodigy, appears to be heading for the top.

He has just completed his first season in one of Europe’s big five leagues with 14 goals in just 17 starts and 14 substitute appearances. And now, the RB Leipzig striker is set to play in his first international tournament at senior level at this summer’s Euros.

Before signing a contract extension with the Bundesliga club on the eve of Euro 2024, he’d been linked heavily with a move to the Premier League. Therefore, there will be plenty of eyes on one of Europe’s most exciting talents as he takes to the pitch in the country where he has just enjoyed such a prolific domestic season.

So, what can we expect of him, both this summer and beyond?

Sesko stands at 6-foot-5, and combines height with speed and technique. With his skill set, movement and excellent finishing, he made headlines across Europe this season, despite not even being in Marco Rose’s first-choice XI at the start of the season.

When he did eventually work his way into the team, he scored reliably. He found the net in 10 of his 17 starts in the Bundesliga (59%), taking his opportunities to prove himself to his coach.

He endured a rather lengthy period of adaption to life at Leipzig, managing just three goals – including two as a sub against 10-man Union Berlin – in his first 15 league appearances, taking him up to late January. But he then found his form in 2024, netting in 11 goals in his final 16 games of the season, including a seven-game scoring streak to end the campaign – a streak he could extend at the start of 2024-25 if he is still in Germany.

There have been several records he broke in the process, too. He became the youngest player since Rudi Völler in 1982-83 to score in seven consecutive Bundesliga appearances, and the second Leipzig player ever to do so, equalling a record set by Timo Werner in 2019-20.

In 2024, only Harry Kane (15) and Loïs Openda (13) scored more Bundesliga goals than Sesko (11), and he did so from just 8.85 expected goals, with his overperformance compared to his xG (5.15) second only to Robin Hack (6.84) among all Bundesliga players in that time.

Sesko xG graphic

Over the entire season, Sesko’s 14 goals came from just 7.7 xG, with the only player exceeding his xG to a greater extent Stuttgart’s Serhou Guirassy (+7.2 to Sesko’s +6.3). Sesko found the net on average every 109 minutes, with only Kane and Guirassy (both every 79 minutes) bettering that rate of all players who scored more than five goals.

Sesko quickly adjusted to the top level in his first Bundesliga season, proving what a natural goalscorer and adept finisher he is, scoring with a higher proportion of his shots (33.3%) than everyone else with more than five goals bar Guirassy (37.3%).

Most of Sesko’s contributions unsurprisingly come close to goal. He had 17% of his touches (99 out of 593) in the opponent’s penalty area last season, where he patiently waits for his opportunities; only three players had more of their touches in the penalty box in the Bundesliga 2023-24 (minimum of 500 touches) – teammate Openda (23%), Leverkusen’s Victor Boniface (21%) and Kane (18%). Furthermore, Sesko scored 13 of his 14 goals from inside the area.

Benjamin Sesko heat map

Initially battling with Openda and Yussuf Poulsen for a spot in the Leipzig team, Sesko has had to overcome decent competition for places, and ultimately proved that his size, technical ability to receive the ball to feet and outstanding finishing were a combination that Rose could not leave on the sidelines any longer.

These attributes and the path he has followed – from Red Bull Salzburg to the Bundesliga – have led to comparisons with another tall, young and prolific striker who has risen to the top of the game in the shape of Erling Haaland.

Whether Sesko will follow Haaland, one of the best strikers in the game, to the Premier League, remains to be seen, but the Manchester City striker spent two and a half seasons developing at Borussia Dortmund. Following the news of his contract extension at RB Leipzig on 11 June, Sesko looks set to stick around for at least another year before potentially looking to replicate Haaland’s success. The Norwegian scored 62 goals in 67 games to take the Bundesliga by storm, so Sesko has a long way to go to enjoy the career Haaland had in Germany before we even get to his Premier League success at City.

But the two players’ first Bundesliga seasons are remarkably similar. Haaland played 15 games in his first campaign, scoring one goal fewer than Sesko, but he scored at a faster rate.

Sesko vs Haaland stats

Comparing those two players with our radar similarity graphic shows precisely why they are spoken about in the same breath as much as they are. Those comparisons would only increase if the Slovenian international makes a move to the Premier League.

Sesko vs Haaland stats comparison

In some sense, Sesko is actually the more versatile of the two. Haaland scores relentlessly but largely does so with his left foot, with 20 out of 27 Premier League goals in 2023-24 left-footed, while three of Sesko’s goals were scored with his left foot, six with his right foot and five were headed. His ability to finish in a variety of different ways makes him such a dangerous player close to goal and, when you mix that ability with his speed, he is often an unstoppable force.

Hitting 35.5 km/h last season, he clocked the 16th-fastest top speed by any player in the Bundesliga last season. Remember, we are talking about a player who is nearly two metres tall. He is a truly unique footballer.

If the young Slovenian eventually makes his move to the Premier League, he’ll be a big asset wherever he goes. With enough playing time and the trust of the manager, Sesko is showing signs that he could become one of the best strikers of his generation.

First, though, let’s see what he can do on the international stage at this summer’s European Championship.

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