Football Features

Man Utd transfer targets: Old Trafford switch may be on the cards for in-demand Joshua Zirkzee

By Will Evans

Published: 17:44, 11 June 2024

Manchester United could be set to scupper AC Milan’s move for Joshua Zirkzee.

The Rossoneri have reportedly agreed personal terms with Bologna’s Dutch sensation, but Erik ten Hag’s side are believed to be considering a rival bid.

However, with talks at an advanced stage — and fellow Premier League side Arsenal also thought to be interested — Man Utd face a battle to sign the in-demand forward.

Ahead of the transfer window opening on Friday, we consider what Zirkzee would add to the Red Devils’ squad.

Value for money

Zirkzee has a €40million release clause in his contract, so negotiating his exit from the Stadio Renato Dall’Ara won’t be an issue for Man Utd.

The only question is whether they can offer a superior package to their rivals for his signature, or if the allure of playing at Old Trafford appeals to the 23-year-old.

Such a reasonable price tag certainly looks like good value for a player who amassed 15 goal contributions (11 goals, four assists) in Serie A last season, as Bologna secured Champions League qualification with a fifth-placed finish.

Ten Hag — or whoever is in charge — may need to spend a significant chunk of Man Utd’s transfer kitty on strengthening their defence this summer, so Zirkzee represents a relatively budget-friendly option in attack.

Speed merchant

Zirkzee would certainly add an injection of pace to United’s attack, having terrorised Italian defences with his speed and dribbling ability.

Only three players in Serie A attempted more take-ons than the Netherlands Under-21 international (124) last term, while his record of 52 completed take-ons was similarly impressive.

Having struggled to score consistently in his first season with the Rossoblu, Zirkzee added a clinical streak to his game in 2023/24 — registering a high volume of shots on target (31) and ranking inside the division’s top 10 performers for big chances scored (8).

The former Bayern Munich man is constantly looking to get on the ball in dangerous positions, with a considerable 151 touches inside the penalty area across the campaign.

Sensible signing

Man Utd will not want to stunt the development of Rasmus Hojlund by signing a similar profile of striker, but Zirkzee has the potential to complement the Red Devils’ No.11.

His direct running could open up space for Hojlund, while his creative attributes would add a different dimension to Man Utd’s attack.

After all, only four players in Serie A created more big chances than the 6ft 4in forward last season (11).

He will help Ten Hag’s team win the ball in advanced areas, too, having ranked second in Italy’s top flight for possession regains in the attacking third (30) in 2023/24.

There is little doubt that Zirkzee would be a sensible signing this summer — if Man Utd can convince him to move to Old Trafford.