Manchester United are in a bad need to find themselves a striker which will score goals on regular basis and get them to further try and close the gap to the top of English football. Last season, they had Marcus Rashford and his somewhat unexpected 30 goals in all competitions, but mostly coming from the left wing. They also had Bruno Fernandes who both kept scoring and assisting, though there is no need to stress just how much of a not-striker the Portuguese maestro is. So, the Red Devils are now pursuing Rasmus Hojlund from Atalanta to potentially become that player for Erik Ten Hag’s team.
The 20-year-old Dane is the more realistic solution than Harry Kane, as Tottenham Hotspur remain stubborn to not let the player go, especially not to a fellow Premier League side. But what is there to know about Hojlund and why could he become the player United could need and the player they are so hard pushing to get?
Hojlund started his senior career at Copenhagen, but since the summer of 2021, he has been moving around quickly. First, there was the transfer to Sturm Graz in January 2022, before the Austrian side sold him to Atalanta in the summer for 17 million euros. So he has had only one season in a top European league in which he finished with nine goals and four assists in 32 appearances. But seven of those nine came since January, when he started 14 of the last 19 Serie A games.
The one thing that has been obvious in Serie A, where he needed some time to find his footing, is that he is far from being a finished product. He is not the creative type of striker United would ‘kill for’ to get with the signing of Kane, nor is he close to Victor Osimhen in that regard, whom United also wanted to sign. But he is good with both feet and can finish attacks in all kinds of ways. He is tall, but also has a good first step, being able to accelerate quickly and leave his defenders behind.
He is also good at find spots in the final third, being able to offer himself to teammates. In fact, his 11.05 progressive passes per 90 minutes puts him in the top 1 per cent of all strikers in Europe’s top five leagues. Being able to be such a good outlet for teammates at the age of 20 is not usual and he is also able to rack up plenty of touches in the opposing box (6.61 per 90 minutes, to be precies).
While he could be characterised as a ‘fox in the box’, he does have his weaknesses. His finishing can sometimes be too powerful, often going to the goalkeeper rather than corners of the goal and his tally in the air has not proved to be fruitful so far. He is not the polished striker Ten Hag would probably be more eager to get, and he might even cost United quite a lot of money. But he is definitely a player Ten Hag could fit into his system and with his great track record of working with younger players, he might even be able to get more out of Hojlund than some other managers would.