Zirkzee Netherlands

Joshua Zirkzee: Analysing what the exciting Dutch prodigy can bring to Manchester United

Manchester United look to be closing in on the first signing of what will be a busy summer.

Joshua Zirkzee looks set to be the first addition at Old Trafford, bringing some much-needed firepower upfront.

Erik ten Hag’s men were joint 9th in goals scored last season, netting fewer goals than West Ham and the same as Crystal Palace.

Despite leading Bologna’s scoring charts with 11 league goals last season, Zirkzee’s tally might seem modest compared to other forwards on the market.

However, his overall impact goes beyond just scoring. The Dutch international ranked first in Thiago Motta’s squad for big chances created and possession won in the final third.

He also ranked second for assists and shots on target, contributing significantly to his team securing a Champions League spot for the first time since 1964.

Zirkzee might not be the marquee signing fans were hoping for, but he represents the kind of smart recruitment which can enhance United's competitiveness on the pitch.

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


According to our Player Valuation Model, Zirkzee has an Estimated Transfer Value (ETV) of €20.6 million. His move to Bologna two seasons ago has been highly successful, effectively doubling his market value.

The current scarcity of high-quality strikers in the market has top teams pursuing young talent. Zirkzee is a prime beneficiary of this trend, which is why United are amongst a host of top teams looking to trigger his €40m release clause.

What can Zirkzee add to Man Utd?

Ahead of his impending transfer, let’s look at what Zirkzee can add to the ​​Red Devils, and how they could line up with him.

Zirkzee was used as a lone striker in Motta’s 4-2-3-1 setup last season, but he is not your stereotypical forward.

The Dutchman often played as a false nine, sacrificing his personal attacking output for what was best for the team. As his manager put it: “I cannot compare him to anyone. He is just Joshua, and he is special.”

While he does not stand out as a pure goalscorer, this is largely due to the team tactics and the selfless role he has been asked to play.

Zirkzee’s numbers in a different system at Anderlecht had also been very impressive, showcasing his finishing prowess and suggesting he is more than capable of stepping in for Rasmus Højlund.

Could United play two up top?

Zirkzee Bologna

However, the more intriguing option sees him playing alongside the Dane, either as a support striker or in a system with two forwards.

The former Bayern Munich man is outstanding at hold-up play, and can receive the ball with his back to goal to effectively link up with team-mates or feed runners in behind.

This contribution in possession is highlighted by his 0.17 Expected Assisted Goals (xAG) and 2.81 progressive passes per 90, where he ranks high amongst forwards in the Italian top flight.

The Bologna number nine is also comfortable receiving the ball from deep, and is dominant in the crowded central areas.

His ability to be an outlet will give Ten Hag’s men more control in the middle and final thirds, and can help get the best out of the talented but underperforming players around him.

Unlike most other forwards of a similar physical stature, the 1.93-metre forward 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 rank him high amongst positional peers in the Serie A.

Another impressive element of his game is his 3.36 ball recoveries per 90 minutes, demonstrating his workrate in disrupting the opposition and forcing transitions.

Having made his senior Netherlands debut in the European Championship quarter-final win over Turkey last week, Zirkzee’s profile is on the rise and his move to Manchester looks to be the start of a bright new chapter for him.

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