Man Utd could make Rashford world-class again by signing “elite” £34m star

    One of the areas where Manchester United need to add to the depth of their squad this summer is at centre-forward. Rasmus Hojlund is currently the only number nine at Old Trafford, and, despite an impressive debut season for the 21-year-old, has a big burden on his shoulders as United’s chief striker at such a young age.

    During his first campaign as a Red Devil, United’s number 11 scored 16 goals and registered two assists in 43 games. That included ten strikes in 30 games in the Premier League, at an average of a goal every three games, and an impressive run of eight goals in seven games in the Premier League between December 2023 and February 2024.

    In the Champions League, Hojlund performed well even though United crashed out at the group stages. He netted five times and was outscored by just five players, which is impressive given he was the only player to score five or more goals to get eliminated at the group stages.

    The Dane’s first campaign at United was impressive and has given him something to build on next season. However, United still need a number nine this summer and have been linked with one player who could take some of Hojlund’s burden.

    Man Utd target Serie A striker

    The player in question here is Bologna and Netherlands striker Joshua Zirkzee. The former Bayern Munich player had an impressive season under Thiago Motta last term and has been linked with a move away from the club during the summer window.

    According to a report from Sky in Italy via Sky Sports, the Red Devils are thought to be “keeping a close eye on developments” regarding Zirkzee’s future in Northern Italy, and he is thought to be “among a number of attacking options” that United are looking at.

    Bologna striker Joshua Zirkzee

    However, Erik ten Hag’s side are not believed to be the only club interested in signing the 23-year-old. United’s Premier League rivals Arsenal are also thought to be looking at the Dutchman, but Italian giants AC Milan lead the way. The Rossoneri are thought to “remain in contact with his representatives” as per Sky Sports. Fellow Italian side Juventus are also interested.

    A deal for Zirkzee would require interested clubs to activate his release clause, which is a reasonable £34m. He has two years left on his current deal at Bologna, but any offer which meets his exit clause means he will leave the club.

    How Zirkzee would benefit Marcus Rashford

    Despite missing out on the Netherlands’ 26-man squad for Euro 2024, Zirkzee’s campaign in 2023/24 was very impressive. He played 34 games for Bologna in Serie A, scoring 11 times and registering five assists. He also scored once and assisted two goals in three Italian Cup matches.

    Football analyst Ben Mattinson described Zirkzee on X as “one of the most intelligent” strikers in the game right now, explaining how the Dutchman is a “facilitator of build-up play” and has “elite spatial awareness”, two key attributes of the forward’s game which have been on show at Bologna all season long.


    Indeed, Zirkzee is an excellent link player, able to drop deep to facilitate teammates and help spring passes forwards, before getting into the penalty box on the end of passes. This is reflected in his Fbref stats, with a tally of 2.81 progressive passes per 90 minutes showing just how well he can help progress play forward. It places the attacker in the top 17% of strikers in Europe. He also averages 0.91 passes into the penalty box per 90, which ranks him in the top 20% of strikers. His link-up play is second to very few.

    This is certainly something that could benefit Marcus Rashford. The Englishman has played his best football on the left wing, partnered with a striker who is able to drop deeper and facilitate his explosive runs from out to in, driving towards the penalty box.


    This was something on show with Wout Weghorst in 2022/23 but is also the reason Rashford had such a successful partnership with Anthony Martial, who has recently left Old Trafford following the expiration of his contract.

    The Frenchman is a master at dropping deeper, pulling defenders away to create space and allowing teammates to bounce the ball off him.

    His superb link-up player is a standout feature of his game, something noted in an article by Breaking the Lines in 2020. Rashford and Martial’s joint record shows how well they linked up. The Englishman has combined with Martial for goals more than any other player.

    Rashford and Martial joint goal record





    Scored by Rashford, assisted by Martial


    Scored by Martial, assisted by Rashford




    Stats from Transfermarkt

    This is something that Zirkzee could bring to Old Trafford once more. He is also superb at dropping deep, pulling defenders away and linking play up. The Dutchman would help vacate space for Rashford to drive into the penalty box and get his shot away, his most effective method of finding the back of the net.

    His heatmap, courtesy of SofaScore, from the 2023/24 Serie A season shows just how often he drops deeper, almost into a second-striker role. This would allow Rashford to explode because he can attack the space the 23-year-old has helped to create.

    Zirkzee HM

    Zirkzee’s 2.28 live ball shot-creating actions per 90 minutes show just how much of a benefit he could be to Rashford. He ranks in the top 17% of strikers in Europe for this last season, a really impressive attribute, largely because of how easily he can help create something out of nothing.

    Signing the Bologna star would allow United to get a lot more than a striker who scores goals. He is a different profile to Hojlund, who is a proficient channel runner, and an expert in the penalty box. Zirkzee adds depth and gets the best out of one of United’s best players, Rashford.

    Marcus Rashford Man United

    For a fee of just £34m, it seems like a very good deal for INEOS to do. Of course, the competition from the likes of Arsenal and Milan would be tough, but the Dutchman is a player who could elevate the United squad to new heights, and help Rashford rediscover his best form.


    What Man Utd’s dream XI could look like after £230m spending spree

    Marcus Rashford doesn’t make the best eleven.

    Source link

    Related articles



    Please enter your comment!
    Please enter your name here

    Share article

    Latest articles


    Subscribe to stay updated.