Football News

Rio Ferdinand makes Man United prediction: “A bit like Darwin Nunez”

By Mohamed Moallim

Published: 20:55, 5 August 2023

Rio Ferdinand believes new Manchester United signing Rasmus Hojlund will have a similar first Premier League season as Liverpool striker Darwin Nunez.

United announced the signing of Hojlund — for a reported fee that could rise to £72m — before their pre-season friendly against Lens at home. The 20-year-old Danish marksman is the club’s fourth acquisition this summer after Mason Mount, Andre Onana and Jonny Evans who has returned to his boyhood club.

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The Red Devils in Erik ten Hag’s first season were often toothless in front of goal. Of the sides finishing top six they scored the fewest amount of goals (58) with Marcus Rashford as their leading scorer with 17 strikes. Hojlund, meanwhile, posted nine goals across 32 appearances in Serie A with Atalanta, which proved to be his only season playing Italian top-division football.

How does Hojlund compare to rival Premier League strikers?

Højlund arrives in the Premier League with nine Serie A goals from 1,832 minutes of playing time.

He is 191cm, the second-tallest behind Erling Haaland among the strikers selected in the comparison below. But Højlund ranks lowest for aerial duel success and didn’t score a headed goal in Serie A. Nor did he for Sturm Graz in the Austrian Bundesliga, where he scored nine times in 18 games.

Christian Ilzer, who managed him at Graz, says “he has flair, speed and an above-average footballing intelligence,” which is reflected in Højlund’s statistical output. He excels in ground duels, averaging the most completed take-ons and ball recoveries of the five strikers here.

Højlund’s youth coupled with moving to a more demanding league has made United legend Ferdinand cautious about Hojlund’s performances in the forthcoming season. Instead, the former England international feels the Dane will enjoy a similar campaign to Nunez, who moved from Benfica with much fanfare but never lit Anfield on fire.


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“Anyone who has seen him play will see there are attributes there that you would like. He’s suited to the Premier League,” he said.

“I look at it a bit like Darwin Nunez at Liverpool. Last season was his adjusting season. He’s a young striker coming to the league, everything about him fits the Premier League perfectly but it didn’t go as well as he would have liked.

“But I think this season we’ll see a different player for Liverpool. I wouldn’t be surprised if that happens with Hojlund, although I’d like him to have a better season than that obviously. He may well do but it will take time to adjust.”

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