Three ways Manchester United could line up if they seal Joshua Zirkzee transfer

United want to strengthen their attacking options this summer and they have settled on Zirkzee as a prime candidate to bolster that area of the team. According to The Athletic, United are currently ‘working to finalise’ a deal for the 23-year-old.

Zirkzee, who joined Bologna in 2022, scored 12 goals in 37 appearances for the Italian club last season. He was also a late addition to the Netherlands squad for the European Championship, where he made his senior debut for his country on Saturday, helping them reach the semi-finals.

Following the exit of Anthony Martial, Rasmus Hojlund is currently United’s only recognisable out-and-out centre-forward. The Dane was unable to lean on a dependable level of support up front last term with Martial missing large chunks of the season through injury.

Dropping deep to link the play

Whoever United sign this summer, there is going to be no dislodging Bruno Fernandes from the attacking-midfield role. The Portuguese international is the club’s architect-in-chief, capable of pulling the strings and making the magic happen.

However, United do not currently have a like-for-like replacement in the No.10 berth. However, in Zirkzee, United would have an alternative option.

His profile is that of a player who similar to Harry Kane, who is often happy to drop deep to get on the ball, find pockets of space and link play. Zirkzee, however, is much more mobile than the England captain, renowned for his dribbling credentials and speed.

Therefore, if Fernandes was ever unavailable or Ten Hag was confident enough to pack more attacking talent onto the pitch, resulting in Fernandes playing slightly deeper, Zirkzee could operate behind Hojlund, tasked with linking the midfield with the attack. His link-up play is one of his greatest assets.

A natural alternative to Hojlund

For almost all of his United premiership, Ten Hag has deployed a system that has featured just one out-and-out striker in a 4-3-3 formation. Hojlund was drafted in for an initial fee of £64million less than a year ago and is highly unlikely to lose his status as striker-in-chief after scoring 16 goals in his debut season in England.

That means Zirkzee would more than likely play the role of Hojlund’s deputy, offering United an alternative option in the centre of attack. Their respective profiles and skillsets, however, are incredibly different, meaning they would each bring a different set of qualities to the table.

But in the event of Hojlund being unavailable for selection, in need of a rest of Zirkzee generally preferred, the latter has the capacity to be United’s lone frontman. He is an aggressive presser and would lead from the front, supported by two wide players.

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