Manchester United have been scouring the market for a solution to their goal-scoring problems, though it looks as though the club and their Dutch taskmaster have settled on Rasmus Højlund as their first-choice pick for the striker position this summer.
At just 20 years old, signing the inexperienced Danish youngster represents a gamble for the Red Devils, especially at prices quoted for the centre-forward, though the talented youngster already looks like a top-tier Premier League striker in the making.
With personal terms already hashed out and negotiations over a fee ongoing with his current club Atalanta, United’s capture of Rasmus Højlund should be completed relatively soon and we’re going to give you the lowdown on why his signing will represent a bit of a coup for the Manchester giants.
United’s current options at centre-forward
Manchester United were the joint-second lowest scorers in the Premier League’s top nine last season despite finishing in third position themselves and their lack of a reliable option at centre-forward contributed massively to their shortcomings at the business end of the pitch.
Cristiano Ronaldo was on the payroll at Old Trafford until December last year, though the troublesome veteran had chipped in with only one Premier League goal in ten appearances before he manufactured his exit to Al Nassr.
Erik ten Hag would have liked to use Anthony Martial more often; however, the Frenchman’s fitness record was frustratingly poor again and the 27-year-old managed to string just 11 Premier League starts together across another injury-ravaged campaign, netting just six times along the way.
Top scorer Marcus Rashford was happy to fill the void centrally in the absence of alternatives and though the 25-year-old enjoyed his best-ever return in terms of goals in all competitions, he was routinely more of a threat when deployed in his favoured berth on the left flank – a position ten Hag will be keen to return Rashford to more often in 2023/24.
What could Rasmus Højlund bring to United?
While his age and relative lack of top-level experience are reasons to temper expectations, there are still several aspects to Højlund’s game that should generate plenty of excitement among United supporters.
Standing at 6’3”, the blonde Scandinavian left-footer has drawn plenty of comparisons with Manchester City’s goal machine Erling Haaland – and it’s easy to see why.
Højlund wields explosive pace and a physical strength that should be frighteningly tough for defenders to tackle when he matures a little more.
The Danish starlet took just three shots from outside the box in Serie A last season, which suggests he would occupy the gaps that need filling at United, and Højlund was also adaptable enough to take chances with both feet and his head for Atalanta last term.
Højlund also has that traditional “nose for goal” and has the determination to sniff out chances when the ball is pinging around the penalty area.
The 20-year-old showcased his considerable talents when he buried a superb hattrick against Finland in just his fourth international appearance for Denmark. His opener was a poached front-post effort, his second a brave diving header in the six-yard box and his third a well-taken left foot strike from a pullback.
Those were the types of goals and finishes that were absent from Manchester United’s attacking moves last season and Højlund’s predatory powers could add a fresh, lethal dimension to the Red Devils’ forward play in 2023/24.