Why Benjamin Sesko is such a sought-after striker this summer

Strikers are going to be in demand this summer. Alexander Isak, Viktor Gyökeres, Victor Osimhen and Ivan Toney may be on the move, with a number of heavy hitters in England and abroad on the lookout for goalscorers. Perhaps the most interesting striker on the market, though, is one who struggled for regular game time for his side earlier this season.

Benjamin Sesko was unlucky to arrive at RB Leipzig in the same summer as Loïs Openda. Leipzig signed Sesko from Red Bull Salzburg last August, a month after they had spent €45m to bring Openda from Lens. Openda was superb in his first campaign in Germany, scoring 24 goals and providing seven assists in the Bundesliga. The Belgian took no time to adjust to the rigours of German football.

His early impact, though, meant Sesko was forced to watch from the sidelines. Six of his first eight league appearances came from the bench, with the more experienced Yussuf Poulsen preferred alongside Openda. “Sesko needed half a year to get used to everything here,” said the RB Leipzig manager Marco Rose last month. The 21-year-old was given time to acclimatise and, in the second half of the season, he very much exploded on to the scene.

Fourteen of his 17 starts in the league this season came after the winter break, when he quickly made up for lost time, scoring 14 goals in the league – a fine haul for a player who was only on the field for 1,532 minutes. To underline just how prolific he became towards the end of the campaign, he scored in each of his last seven games of the season.

What stands out about Sesko compared to the other strikers available this summer, however, is his potential price. Newcastle, Sporting, Napoli and Brentford will demand hefty fees for Isak, Gyökeres, Osimhen and Toney, respectively, but Sesko has a release clause of just £55m, which reportedly expires at the end of the month. It is why interested parties, of whom there are many, are keen to get a deal done before Sesko’s attention turns to Slovenia’s first game at the Euros against Denmark next Sunday. The youngster has scored 11 goals for his country in 28 caps, so is definitely one to watch this summer.

Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester United are believed to be monitoring Sesko, with good reason. Of the 127 players to fire off at least 25 shots in the Bundesliga last season, only the Stuttgart forward Serhou Guirassy (30.4%) had a better conversion rate than Sesko (29.8%). In addition, Sesko over performed his xG by 5.98, the biggest over performance in Germany’s top tier, meaning he scored nearly six more goals than he should have done considering the quality of the chances created for him.

Benjamin Sesko takes a selfie with Slovenia fans. Photograph: SOPA Images/LightRocket/Getty Images

Whether he will revert to the mean remains to be seen but there is more to Sesko’s game than just putting the ball in the back of the net. His goalscoring, height and route to German football have led to many easy comparisons to Erling Haaland. Both shone for Salzburg before moving to Germany and drawing attention from the Premier League, but they have very different styles of play.

Haaland comes alive in the penalty box; feed the Braut and he will score. He is a traditional No 9 who offers little in buildup play and relies on others to create his chances. Sesko, though, is a different frontman entirely. Despite standing at 6ft 5in, he will not remain stationary in the box waiting for opportunities to come.

Rather, the towering frontman often pulls to the flanks, creating space for others. His selflessness and adaptability make him desirable for managers who like their wingers to move infield and capitalise upon the space vacated by a central striker who pulls wide.

Arsenal, for example, rely heavily on Bukayo Saka, Leandro Trossard and Gabriel Martinelli to make darting runs into the box as Kai Havertz drifts across the frontline. At Chelsea, Sesko would offer an attacking alternative to Nicolas Jackson – and he would do the same for Rasmus Højlund at Manchester United. Sesko’s experience of playing with a strike partner during his time with RB Leipzig adds another layer of flexibility.

RB Leipzig are understandably keen to keep the 21-year-old but they will have little say if his release clause is met. In a market where clubs are being forced to overspend to bolster their frontlines, the young Slovenian could prove the bargain buy of the summer.

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