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Man Utd told why £70m Serie A striker is the perfect No 9 with Ten Hag implored to make huge push to sign him



Man Utd told why £70m Serie A striker is the perfect No 9 with Ten Hag implored to make huge push to sign him

Manchester United are reportedly taking a long, hard look at signing Joshua Zirkzee this summer and a detailed look at the player shows exactly why he would thrive in Erik ten Hag’s system and provide a major upgrade on Anthony Martial.

Zirkzee has been having the season of his life for Bologna in 2023/24 and he’s rightly been attracting interest from top teams such as Bayern Munich, Arsenal, AC Milan, Inter Milan and many more.

But it’s seemingly Manchester United who are club with the most concrete links to sign the 6ft 4in Dutchman in the summer. So who exactly is he and does he fit in at Man Utd?

Zirkzee is at the heart of every attack for Bologn; he’s a facilitator of play, constantly creating chances for others with an ability to drop deep and spray passes wide.

His spatial awareness is what makes him so effective at this as he’s always scanning to find where the space is, and his movement helps to allow other spaces to form. Such an intelligent striker.

When looking at Man Utd last season, the signing of Wout Weghorst raised some eyebrows, but his role as a facilitator was crucial in Marcus Rashford’s red-hot form.

This type of striker is how you get the best out of an inside forward like Rashford who’s not involved in build-up play much.

Rashford’s drop-off in form this season is massively due to the players around him. Less chances created for him and a lack of confidence.

The key to unlocking him could be signing another striker who’s able to facilitate play for him. Weghorst did this to a decent standard, but there was also a lot of limitations in his game.

Weghorst’s performances left Man Utd fans thinking, “if only he was better at the other aspects of the game” such as scoring goals, and taking on players for example! Well, Zirkzee is exactly that.

He has the creative nature to a much higher level, a huge mobility and technical ability upgrade and still lots of potential at only 22.

A big upgrade on his compatriot that would get goals himself whilst create for those around him such as Rashford and Bruno Fernandes.

One of Zirkzee’s trademark moves is to drop deep, as for the ball from midfielders/defenders in build-up play to escape the press, receive the ball on the half turn, spin a defender, then ping a pass wide out the wings for a wide player to run in behind from. A match made in heaven for a goalscoring winger like Rashford.

Despite being so tall, the 22-year-old is a very agile player, who loves a Cruyff-turn to fool his marker and create separation to shoot or progress play into space.

It’s rare you see someone move so well at this height and it’s all down to the mobility in his hips. He’ll swivel in the box in such a quick motion to beat a defender and shoot on goal.

Zirkzee has scored a few goals in this exact way. A quality first touch to bring the ball down and then a swift, intricate movement in the box to get a shot off.

Due to his ambipedal nature, he can do to take on a defender on either side and strike the ball cleanly with either foot. Unpredictable and therefore, hard to defend against.

His excellence in his back-to-goal play is so impressive to watch. Not just turning to beat his man but also in creating for advanced runners.

At Bologna, one extremely common combination is the link-up between Zirkzee and Scotsman Lewis Ferguson. Zirkzee drops deeper to receive the ball and hence pulls the defender forward out of position creating space in behind the defender. Ferguson then sees this space and drives in behind where Zirkzee will play the ball to for Ferguson to run onto.

This exact combination is what I could see happening with the advanced runs from an attacking midfielder such as Fernandes or even Scott McTominay who’s great at box-crashing.

In fact, if McTominay were to stay, the combination of him and Zirkzee would be a deadly one. A very complementary duo. A match made in heaven!

The Bologna forward’s aforementioned ambipedal ability is one of my favourite traits about him. Equally as good dribbling, passing, shooting on both feet.

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