Premier League • England

Man Utd stung after Arsenal thunder into race for high-risk striker signing worth £50m

Bologna striker Joshua Zirkzee

Arsenal have entered the race to sign a Serie A striker wanted by Manchester United, though two reasons why a deal is difficult for either side to pull off have been revealed.

A lack of potency in front of goal is the hot topic at the Emirates right now. The Gunners don’t lack for chances created, though converting them is another matter entirely.

Bukayo Saka is Arsenal’s top scorer in the Premier League this season with just six goals. Strikers Gabriel Jesus and Eddie Nketiah have combined for just eight goals between them.

To put that into context, strikers like Bournemouth’s Dominic Solanke (12), Aston Villa’s Ollie Watkins and Newcastle’s Alexander Isak (both nine) have each scored more by themselves. Furthermore, Chelsea’s much-derided Nicolas Jackson (seven) is only one shy of Jesus and Nketiah’s combined total.

Arsenal are understood to be open to signing a new striker, though landing one capable of making a significant difference this month will be tough.

The Gunners don’t have much room for manoeuvre with regards to keeping in line with Financial Fair Play regulations. Player exits is one avenue that would broaden Arsenal’s scope for a new frontman.

Whether Arsenal are willing to sever ties with saleable assets like Eddie Nketiah remains to be seen. If they are, the Telegraph reveal who could be his replacement and provide stiffer competition for Jesus.

The outlet state Bologna’s Joshua Zirkzee is on the club’s radar and Arsenal are open to doing business this month.

The Dutchman, 22, has another keen admirer in the form of Manchester United. The Red Devils are seeking an upgrade on Anthony Martial who is out of contract at season’s end.

But it’s Arsenal who are threatening to derail any potential Man Utd move for a player who has come into his own since leaving Bayern Munich in the summer of 2022.

Zirkzee – who stands at 6ft 4in tall – has returned 12 goal contributions in 22 matches for Bologna this term. As such, he could be viewed in the same bracket of deal as the one that brought Rasmus Hojlund to Old Trafford.

Both players excelled at middle-ranking Serie A sides and have their best years ahead. Hojlund cost an initial £64m to sign, while the Telegraph state Zirkzee is valued around the £50m mark.

The jury remains out on Hojlund who has notched just a single goal in the league this term. It’s also questionable whether Zirkzee would be any more potent than Jesus or Nketiah.

Nonetheless, the risk attached with signing the player doesn’t appear to be deterring Arsenal who are hot for the player.

January swoop difficult for several reasons

However, there are two distinct reasons  – aside from Arsenal’s lack of budget – why a January transfer looks difficult.

Firstly, Bologna are highly resistant to cashing in on Zirkzee mid-season. Secondly, Bayern Munich will have a major say in the Dutchman’s future.

Bayern inserted two critical clauses in Zirkzee’s contract when selling the frontman to Bologna in 2022.

The Bundesliga giant included a release clause in the deal which only they can trigger. The clause is set at €40m – a figure far below the player’s current market value.

Furthermore, Bayern also negotiated a 50 percent sell-on clause. As such, they’d effectively only have to pay €20m to re-sign Zirkzee.

If Arsenal or Man Utd were to get serious for the player, it stands to reason Bayern might too – even though they have the imperious Harry Kane leading their line.

The Telegraph concluded a summer switch looks more viable for Arsenal rather than a transfer this month. Even then, Bayern may yet play a major part in the player’s future.

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