Why Man Utd are pushing to sign Dutch hitman Joshua Zirkzee


Manchester United are closing in on the the Bologna hitman, and for good reason..


Opportunities in football can present themselves in unexpected ways. 


Despite never being capped at senior international level, Joshua Zirkzee is now heading to Germany as a last-minute call-up to the Netherlands squad for Euro 2024. 


His rise over the past few seasons has been nothing short of meteoric, so it’s fair to say that he has deserved this. 


Zirkzee led the goalscoring charts for Bologna last season with 11 league goals, helping them rise from ninth place the previous season to secure a Champions League spot for the first time since 1964. 


However, the overall impact of the former Bayern Munich man transcends his goalscoring output. He also ranked first in Thiago Motta’s squad for big chances created and possession won in the final third, and second for assists and shots on target. 


Joshua Zirkzee Transfer Value - how much is he worth now? 


According to FootballTransfer's Player Valuation Model, Zirkzee has a current Estimated Transfer Value (ETV) of €21.3m. His move to Bologna two seasons ago has proved to be very successful and has more than doubled his value. 


Why Man Utd are pushing to sign Dutch hitman Joshua Zirkzee


The current lack of high quality strikers in the market has led to a rise in demand for young prodigies who are showing promising signs. Zirkzee is a prime beneficiary of this trend, and will likely see his €40m release clause triggered in the summer. 


AC Milan were reported to be leading the way for the 23-year-old, but with Benjamin Sesko deciding to stay at RB Leipzig, clubs such as Arsenal and Manchester United are now looking at the Dutchman as an alternative, with the latter set to land the youngster.


What does Zirkzee bring to the table? 


Motta built his Bologna side on players who can adapt and help the team thrive as a collective. 


Zirkzee excelled in such a system, playing as a false nine and sacrificing his personal attacking output for what was best for the team. 


Standing at 1.93 metres, the Bologna number nine is outstanding at hold-up play. He can receive the ball with his back to goal and on the half turn to link up with teammates or feed runners in behind. 


This contribution in possession is highlighted by his 2.81 progressive passes and 0.17 Expected Assisted Goals (xAG) per 90, where he ranks high amongst positional peers in the Serie A. 


He is also comfortable receiving the ball up from deep, and is dominant in the crowded central areas, with over 40 touches in the middle and final thirds. 


Unlike most other forwards of a similar physical stature, Zirkzee is a fluid dribbler who can glide past defenders. He is not afraid to take players on and his 1.70 successful take-ons per 90 put him among the best forwards in the Italian top flight. 


The right-footed forward creates a lot of value for his side by doing this consistently, and ranks among the top 6% of forwards in terms of shot-creating actions from a take-ons per 90 (0.52). 


Beyond just being involved in facilitating play, another element of his game is his work rate in leading the press, where he makes an impressive 3.36 ball recoveries per 90. 


With all of this, it is no surprise that Zirkzee does not stand out as a pure goal scorer. With only 4.44 touches in the attacking penalty area per game, he is not very involved in the dangerous areas where you would expect a poacher to be. 


However, this is largely due to team tactics and the selfless role he is asked to play, as highlighted by his non-penalty Expected Goals per shot (npxG/shot) figure of just 0.09, one of the lowest in the league. 


Zirkzee’s numbers in a different system at Anderlecht were very impressive, demonstrating enough finishing prowess to suggest he can deliver the kind of output needed to lead the line for a top team. 


The Euros now offer him a massive stage to showcase this enormous talent, making it the perfect audition to set him up for a big move.


This article was provided by FootballTransfers

Why Man Utd are pushing to sign Dutch hitman Joshua Zirkzee