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Sesko is soccer's latest rising talent. Just don't compare him to Haaland


BERLIN (AP) — Slovenia forward Benjamin Sesko is tired of being compared to Erling Haaland.

Those comparisons, though, are somewhat inevitable. Both players are 6-foot-4 strikers who took formative steps in their careers at Austrian team Salzburg before moving to German clubs – Sesko to Salzburg's sister club Leipzig this summer, while Haaland moved to Borussia Dortmund in 2020 before joining Manchester City last year.

"I already said that I'm my own player," the 20-year-old Sesko told journalists in an online call Monday. "The only thing that we have kind of similar is, of course, height. And also, we're both fast, but in general we have a different style of playing."

Sesko grabbed his first Bundesliga goals by scoring two in Leipzig's 3-0 win at Union Berlin on Sept. 3, ending Union's 24-game unbeaten run at home in the league, and he also he sealed Leipzig's winning start in the Champions League by scoring the decisive goal against Young Boys.

Man City is the next opponent in that competition, when Haaland's return to Germany will offer more opportunity for comparisons.

"This is comparing (to) someone who is one of the best players in the world. So it's not easy to compare," Sesko said. "I would not like to compare myself to anyone. I would just love to be myself and be the best myself in general."

Sesko is doing a good job so far. He already has seven goals in 22 appearances for Slovenia. He set up two goals and scored another in the 4-2 win over Northern Ireland in European Championship qualifying on Sept. 7. He netted 16 goals in the Austrian league last season.

As a young player, Sesko was inspired by Zlatan Ibrahimovic, another towering striker who enjoyed a stellar career at some of Europe's biggest clubs, including Ajax, Juventus, Inter Milan, AC Milan, Barcelona and Paris Saint-Germain.

"I just loved to look at him. He was making fun, he was enjoying (himself) on the pitch. He was doing what he wanted to do," Sesko said. "And that makes me really happy when I see that kind of player like him."

Sesko reportedly had the chance to join Manchester United among other Premier league clubs, but he chose Leipzig instead.

"I think it was just better for me to come here," Sesko said of the transfer that reportedly cost Leipzig €24 million. He spent another season at the Austrian team once the transfer was agreed last year before moving to Leipzig this summer.

Leipzig has four wins from five Bundesliga games so far this season and next hosts Bayern Munich in the league on Saturday. The team already defeated Bayern 3-0 in the mostly ceremonial German Super Cup in August, but Bayern is unbeaten in the league and will be keen to beat one of its closest challengers in recent seasons to stretch its run of Bundesliga titles to 12 in a row.

Sesko believes that Leipzig, which won the last two German Cup titles, can challenge Bayern's dominance in the league.

"Everything is on us. We have to perform. We have to show that we can win the games. It's obviously a lot of games. We just have to be 100% or even more every single game because the games are every third or fourth day. But as I said, we have a really good team, I think we have a big chance this year.”

Away from the soccer field, Sesko is a keen basketball fan and he still plays for fun.

"After football, I was already changing my clothes, boom, go out and play basketball because I just love it. I still do it for me, just in free time, just throwing the hoop is one of the best things to do," Sesko said.

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