Red Bull Salzburg’s Oscar Gloukh is a target for Premier League clubs; Israeli youngster has the talent but choosing Salzburg over Barcelona could be key to his development; find out why with exclusive insight from their head coach Gerhard Struber…
Image: Oscar Gloukh has impressed in the Champions League for Red Bull Salzburg and is being watched by Premier League clubs
It was Oscar Gloukh’s performances at the European U19 Championships in 2022 that alerted the world to his potential. Interest from Barcelona was eschewed in favour of a move to Red Bull Salzburg but do not expect his rise to be delayed for long.
In the autumn, his name was mentioned in reports linking him with Manchester United, Arsenal and Liverpool. Soon after, it was Aston Villa said to be monitoring his progress. What is it that makes the 19-year-old Israel international such an appealing target?
Gerhard Struber, his head coach at Salzburg, is the man to ask. Under the Austrian, Gloukh has already scored in a Champions League win over Benfica in the Estadio da Luz and netted an equalising goal against Inter in the San Siro so far this season.
Image: Gloukh scores his side's second goal in their Champions League win over Benfica
“Oscar is, from a technical standpoint, a different player,” Struber tells Sky Sports. “He brings a lot of football intelligence with him. He is a scorer but also a hard worker. I think that mix makes him very interesting for the top clubs in Europe’s best leagues right now.”
Gloukh starred for his country as a No 10 in that U19 tournament in 2022, scoring a superb goal against England in the final. But it is cutting in from the left that he has found success with Salzburg. The team have even focused their attacks down that flank.
Image: Red Bull Salzburg have focused their attacks down the left wing this season
Those goals against Benfica and Inter highlight just why Gloukh chose Austria as his next step. The interest from Barcelona came late but the player suggested his decision would have been the same regardless. “It makes more sense for my development.”
The example of Erling Haaland is a compelling one for young players. Gloukh knows this. So do the club. “Salzburg can be a trampoline for many big talents. You have the chance to play at a good level and at the same time in the Champions League,” says Struber.
Image: Red Bull Salzburg head coach Gerhard Struber says the club is 'a trampoline' for players
“That is everything players want because you get to play against the best teams in Europe so if you realise good performances it is clear that you have an interesting phase for the next transfer. We are a very interesting environment for young players.”
Gloukh had already showed his potential while at Maccabi Tel Aviv, scoring against the Israeli champions Maccabi Haifa on his senior debut. But the biggest clubs will have learned more from his experiences over the past 12 months playing abroad in Austria.
Image: Gloukh's heatmap and passing sonar in this season's Champions League
There are more difficult competitions in Europe but the expectations are high at Salzburg. This is a club that has won the Austrian title for 10 consecutive seasons. Competing in Europe is part of the job but winning domestically is non-negotiable.
“This is the challenge for the young boys. To jump out of the Champions League and then go into a Bundesliga game with a completely different psychological demand. They do not only have to win but win the right way, playing an attractive style.
“The standards are very high here. The expectations are there from the fans. For some young players this is a lot of pressure so we have to find the balance to give the players the right tools and the right mental plan so that they can handle that pressure.”
Image: Gloukh starred for Israel at youth level and is now a senior international
The indications are that Gloukh can handle it. In what has become a more awkward season than Salzburg are accustomed to, he has scored in each of their last two narrow home wins to ensure that Struber’s side went into the winter break two points clear at the top.
If that ticks the mentality box, and the technical skills are not in doubt, the move to Salzburg is also designed to prove his physicality. The Red Bull model of Ralf Rangnick is built on high pressing. For the diminutive Gloukh, 5ft 7in, it is becoming another asset in his game.
“We are bringing him also into the typical style of play – very aggressive, very proactive, working hard against the ball,” explains Struber. “We give the players a high level of support so they can develop in the right way playing an interesting style of play.”
It could persuade the Premier League of his potential. “Many clubs look to us for best practice. From here, they jump to Germany, they jump to England,” adds Struber. Haaland joined Salzburg in January 2019 and left in January 2020. Gloukh may be next.