In the world of football, a hefty price tag often accompanies extraordinary talent. Rasmus Hojlund, with fewer than 100 top-level games under his belt, made headlines by securing a £72 million move to Manchester United. Clearly, he possesses a unique gift, but the question lingers: will he follow in the footsteps of Erling Haaland or face the challenges that befell Anthony Martial? Let’s delve deep into this rising star’s journey.
Hojlund’s journey began in his native Denmark with Copenhagen, where he exhibited prolific goal-scoring ability in youth ranks. However, his senior debut season yielded no goals. The Austrian club Sturm Graz recognized his raw talent and acquired his services. During his eight-month stint, Hojlund found his scoring form, netting 12 goals in 21 games.
Atalanta soon came knocking, investing €17.2 million in this “unproven talent.” Under the guidance of Gian Piero Gasperini, Hojlund adapted to Italian football, forming a potent strike partnership with Ademola Lookman. By 2023, Hojlund was thriving, scoring four goals in four consecutive games for Atalanta and delivering an exceptional hat-trick for Denmark against Finland. PSG, Real Madrid and Manchester United were eager to secure his services and ultimately met Atalanta’s demands of bringing him over from Italy for a fee that could reach PS72 Million.
Style Of Play
Standing tall, Hojlund resembles his Norwegian counterpart, Erling Haaland, yet possesses deceptive speed, clocking an impressive 100-meter dash in under 11 seconds, according to his Atalanta manager. His ability to take on defenders and thrive in transitional play aligns perfectly with United’s style, complementing players like Bruno Fernandes and Rashford.
Notably, Hojlund is selective with his shots, focusing on those with high potential to result in goals. He avoids speculative attempts, having taken only three shots from outside the penalty area last season. His preference for central positions distinguishes him from modern strikers who drift wide. In addition, Hojlund’s two-footedness adds an element of unpredictability to his game.
Tremendous self-confidence is another hallmark of Hojlund’s character, a crucial asset for the high-pressure environment at Manchester United. However, he still requires work; his link-up play and aerial duels require improvement, and he has yet to achieve the milestone of playing over 2000 minutes in a season or scoring 10+ goals in domestic campaigns.
Where Would He Fit In at United?
Under Ten Hag’s system, Hojlund’s natural position is as the lone striker. Supported by players like Bruno Fernandes, Mason Mount, and Rashford, he could share the goalscoring burden. His pace would stretch defenses, creating opportunities for his teammates. Having played in a 4-3-3 setup for Denmark and alongside a strike partner at Atalanta, Hojlund could also adapt to different tactical approaches.
A Word of Caution
While Hojlund’s talent is undeniable, the weight of expectations at a big English club can be daunting. The cautionary tale of Anthony Martial serves as a reminder of the challenges young forwards face. Furthermore, if Hojlund doesn’t hit the ground running, comparisons to established stars like Harry Kane may emerge.
As an exciting young striker with immense potential, Hojlund’s journey at Manchester United holds promise. However, it’s essential for Ten Hag and the club to manage expectations and provide the support he needs to settle in. With fitness concerns surrounding Martial and Greenwood’s unavailability, there is growing sentiment among United fans that another striker could ease the pressure on Hojlund during his adjustment period. Time will reveal the path this rising star takes at one of the world’s most iconic football clubs.