The search for a new number 9 in Manchester may have finally ended with the signing of a young Danish footballer. Rasmus Hojlund joined United for 72 million pounds from Italian Series A side Atalanta. There were many who believed United should’ve done all they could to buy Harry Kane but the fee for a 30 year old striker was just too high. I’m also not so sure Kane, despite how good he is, would’ve helped United’s situation. The lack of a goal scorer since Ronaldo left has been quite evident. Although as we’re seeing this season thus far, the problems at United run much deeper.
With a young player like Hojlund and his physical attributes, United can count on the young Dane to help the team now while also progressively improving and learning as time goes on. Kane would’ve perhaps given us 2-3 years of top football, 1-2 of which United may have been still trying to build the team. Hojlund was the only correct choice for United. If the squad issues can get resolved soon then Hojlund can contribute to this team quite efficiently now. If not, then Hojlund can continue to grow and will still be young and thriving by the time United hopefully does get it all figured out.
Rasmus Hojlund is already regarded as one of the best young strikers in the world. He is good with either foot although is more of a left footed player legitimately. Hojlund has a rare combination of speed and strength, which is what often leads to his comparisons with Erling Haaland. Just like Haaland, his tremendous balance makes him hard to stop when on the run. He has also drawn comparisons to players like Dimitra Berbatov for his agility and his comfortability with his back to goal. The numbers back this all up too.
Hojlund receives 11.05 progressive passes per 90 minutes, putting him in the 99th percentile for strikers across Europe. He averages 6.61 touches inside the opposing penalty area, which puts him in the 92nd percentile. The young lad is never shy to participate in link up play and has shown a great ability to dribble out of congested areas.
Hojlunds height and strength give him a huge advantage in all these areas but surprisingly he only ranks int he 42nd percentile for ariel duels won. Although, this is mainly due to a lack of arial service in possession and his responsibility to press when out of possession. I am a betting man and I would bet my mortgage on Hojlund to win an arial duel with almost any other player.
After all that being said though, perhaps Hojlund’s greatest attribute is his conditioning. Writing on Hojlunds physical stamina in the Football Faithful, Vishnu Anandraj wrote:
“There’s also something to be said about Højlund’s engine. We don’t usually focus on the stamina and energy levels of a striker as much as other positions, but it’s undeniable that the 20-year-old plays with remarkable intensity. During a game, he’s constantly making sharp, incisive runs over and over again. That speaks both to an intelligence about attacking space off the ball, and an ability to recognize where to exploit gaps in an opposition defense.”Vishnu Anandraj in the Football Faithful (https://thefootballfaithful.com/player-analysis-why-rasmus-hojlund-is-a-perfect-signing-for-manchester-united/)
The Road so Far
Rasmus Hojlund began his career in the FC Copenhagen youth system and made his professional debut at the age of 17 in 2020. Despite scoring 0 goals from 2020 to 2022 for Copenhagen, Hojlund was bought by Austrian side Strum Graz, where he would go on to score 12 goals in his two half seasons with them. This got the attention of Atalanta who bought him for around 17 million Euros. Hojlund arrived in Italy as a back up youngster but by mid season had became an un droppable number 9. Hojlund would finish the season with 10 goals and 4 assists.
Following his breakout season with Atalanta, Manchester United would welcome the Dane to Old Trafford. Unfortunately, an undisclosed back injury caught in his medical kept Hojlund form making his debut until the 67th minute of a match against Arsenal on September 4th. Hojlund would then get his first start against Brighton after the international break. It was clear in each match that Hojlund was the man to lead United’s line going forward. It’s just unfortunate that after finally having a decent striker, all the other areas United thought they had strengthened have now completely fallen apart.
Højlund’s first United goal would come in the second half of an away match with Bayern Munich in the Champions League on September 20th. Unfortunately the match would end in a 4-3 defeat. Despite all of the negativity surrounding the team though, most fans and pundits alike are in a consensus on Hojlund. Speaking with TNT sports following the Munich match, speaking on Hojlund Paul Scholes said:
“Looking at him, I was impressed with him when he came on at Arsenal. I thought for the first time [in a while] we had somebody who was prepared to use his body. He is a young player and a strong lad. He was smashing into defenders, using his body. He is also quick. It is going to take a little bit of time, we are going to have to be patient. His goalscoring record, at this moment in time, isn’t great, but he is now coming to a big club with a better team and better players. That may improve. I hope it does.”Paul Scholes to TNT sports via: (https://www.manchestereveningnews.co.uk/sport/football/football-news/manchester-united-rasmus-hojlund-transfer-27755406)
As always, only time will tell, but Hojlund looks to be a keeper.
Let’s be Optimistic
Rasmus Hojlund has all the potential one could ever ask for. He’s tall, strong, fast, athletic and extremely agile or shifty as some may say. But, as United fans know all too well, that means absolutely nothing. We’ve seen this story before, but the major caveat is that this signing truly is different. Such a far cry from our days of buying aging ‘has beens’. (Shoutout Zlatan, as he actually did work out!)
Was it the smartest move to put almost 80 million pounds into a young striker? One who’s only played in a top European league for one season? And one that has yet to score 20 or more goals in a single season? Perhaps…probably not, but this is a new strategy from United. Had Hojlund remained in Italy for one more season and scored over 20 goals, then perhaps United may have never had a chance of grabbing him. United took a gamble on a young striker with the potential to be as good as Erling Haaland for a relatively modest price when you consider what a player playing at Hojlund’s full potential could go for.
A Wild Prediction
Our duty as ever, as fans, is to back the young lad. We’ve had stout backers of Anthony Martial all these years so we better support the shit out of this Great Dane. And I for one really do believe Hojlund is the one. The one to finally settle in as a long term striker for United. This kid has everything a striker needs. In his 3 short appearances for United he’s looked like the best player on the pitch. So here goes my wild prediction: ‘Rasmus Hojlund will score at least 15 goals before the end of this season and I find it very difficult to not say 20′ Full Muppet action, let’s fucking go. C’mon Rasmus!