Manchester United are on the hunt for a new centre forward this summer, with Rasmus Hojlund mooted as a potential target. The Atalanta striker is regarded among the best young players in Serie A, and could be the next piece of the puzzle for Erik ten Hag’s revolution.
Hojlund joined Atalanta last summer from Austrian side Sturm Graz for around €17m, and took some time to be trusted as a regular starter. In the first 11 Serie A matches for which he was available, Hojlund started on only four occasion, scoring once. Since January, he has started 14 of the Italian side’s last 19 league games, scoring seven goals and providing an assist in that time frame.
It is fair to say that the striker took some time to settle in at his new club, but there was no such adaptation period upon stepping up to the international scene. Hojlund scored five goals in his first two senior Denmark appearances, including a hattrick against rivals Finland.
The 20-year-old is far from the finished article, with his productivity nowhere near the likes of elite targets such as Harry Kane and Victor Osimhen. But his qualities are clear for all to see and that is the reason a host of top European clubs are believed to have registered their interest.
Possessed of a wide array of finishes, Hojlund is good with either foot. He is generally regarded as left-footed but, curiously, five of his eight league goals this season have been scored with his right. He typically opts for a driven low shot – as forwards are generally taught to – but he is not afraid of an inventive chip when the chance presents itself.
In terms of his offerings aside from shooting, Hojlund has a rare combination of speed and strength that has largely been the basis of comparisons between the Dane and the likes of Erling Haaland and Dusan Vlahovic. The Atalanta forward stands at 192cm and has a burst of acceleration that has seen him consistently break in behind opposition defenders. His balance makes him incredibly hard to stop once he gets going.
Unlike the aforementioned pair, however, Hojlund is a surprisingly agile player. There are shades of Dimitar Berbatov in his ability to flummox defenders with just a couple of touches and a body feint. Comfortable with his back to goal and ability to roll defenders with a combination of skill and strength, the centre-forward is a valuable asset to his team’s ability to work the ball forward and keep it in the opposition’s final third.
That is reflected in his underlying numbers. He receives 11.05 progressive passes per 90 minutes, ranking him in the 99th percentile in that metric among all strikers in Europe’s top five leagues. At the tender age of twenty, he is already among the best at providing an outlet for his teammates. His first touch is a great help to him to fashion chances too, with 6.61 touches in the attacking penalty area ranking him in the 92nd percentile, as per Fbref. His Smarterscout style ratings also reflect this, with 81/100 demonstrating his penchant for acting as a ‘fox in the box.’
Also standing out is his high volume of link-up play. Smarterscout evaluates this value by looking at passes per attacking touches, disregarding those which progress the ball more than ten metres towards goal. His style rating of 67 in such actions is very much on the high side for a centre forward and shows the value he could add to a possession-centric team by bringing others into play. The fact that he enjoys a good dribble is an added benefit, with Hojlund adept at wriggling out of tight situations and bringing the ball goalwards.
The Atalanta man does have wrinkles in his game that will need to be ironed out. For one thing, while he is certainly capable of a world-class finish, he does on occasion strike the ball straight down the goalkeeper’s throat when better options are on the table. Fortunately he shoots with enough power to usually force some kind of rebound, but he would be better served in looking for placement into the corners where possible. He could also do with making more use of his height. While he towers over many opposing centre-backs, he has scored just one header this season, against Finland. He certainly looks like a player who should be ranked higher than the 41st percentile for aerial duels won, but there is work to be done to improve upon his 36% aerial duel success rate in the league.
As reported by The Peoples Person on Saturday, Rasmus Hojlund could be available for around £40m. Were Man United able to sign both the Denmark starlet and a more polished striker, Erik ten Hag would certainly see his options expand dramatically. The Dutchman has been operating without a dependable centre forward since walking through the door at Carrington.
Whether or not Hojlund would be able to lead the line solo for a club the size of Manchester United is another matter, and would require a sharp jump in the Serie A starlet’s development curve.
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Courtesy : https://thepeoplesperson.com/2023/05/21/scout-report-rasmus-hojlund-could-be-a-perfect-fit-for-manchester-united-264286/