Manchester United

Manchester United

Premier League • England

Man Utd accelerate towards dazzling striker signing with talks held TODAY – but big hurdle remains

Joshua Zirkzee celebrating for Bologna

Man Utd set for crunch talks over Joshua Zirkzee

Manchester United are set for crunch talks with Bologna over signing Joshua Zirkzee, as they flesh out how much they are willing to pay for the striker – but a big hurdle remains.

TEAMtalk revealed that Man United had made the Netherlands Under-21 international their top attacking target this summer, following the departure of Anthony Martial, and had made a ‘firm approach’ for his services.

This came after the 23-year-old, whose 11 goals and five assists helped his side qualify for next season’s Champions League, refused to rule out a summer transfer move; but admitted he was focused on Bologna for the time being.

Last month, the Dutchman told Sky Sports: “After the holidays we’ll see what will happen. As far as I know so far I will play the Champions League with Bologna but I can’t say anything.

“There’s a lot going on, in the meantime we’re thinking about finishing the season well and then we’ll come back after the holidays and see what happens.”

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Those holidays were disrupted after the 6ft 4in forward was called up to the Netherlands squad for Euro 2024, right when he was on holiday at Walt Disney World Florida.

Injuries have hit the Dutch camp, meaning he and Chelsea defender Ian Maatsen were late additions to Ronald Koeman’s 26-man squad for the tournament.

United consider £33.8m transfer

While it remains to see if the uncapped attacker will make his Netherlands debut, Football Insider claims United will be involved in talks today (Wednesday, June 19) with Bologna in a bid to lure him to Old Trafford.

The report adds the Red Devils will decide whether to activate his £33.8m release clause as they seek to bolster a front line that struggled for goals at times in 2023/24.

One factor that may complicate the whole process, however, is the say of his agent, Kia Joorabchian. The infamous intermediary, who came to fame after representing Carlos Tevez and Javier Mascherano, is reportedly demanding approximately £10m payment in addition to a Zirkzee transfer fee. 

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United are expected to have a major overhaul this summer following the arrival of minority owner Sir Jim Ratcliffe, as they look to compete for the biggest trophies once more.

Now, Erik Ten Hag’s side – who won the FA Cup but also finished eighth in the Premier League last season – will decide what to do with Zirkzee, whose contract with the Serie A side runs until 2026.

The striker, who has also been linked with Arsenal, will no doubt be flattered by the Red Devils’ interest but it remains to be seen if manager Thiago Motta’s move to Juventus will be part of the reason why he moves on.

Moreover, after helping Bologna reach the Champions League, is that mission accomplished for them? Can they go any further? That is something to consider for Zirkzee, going by his comments in November.

He told La Gazzetta dello Sport: “The road is long and you have to work hard every day. If you ask me what I prefer between making Bologna great or going to play for a big club soon, I tell you the right choice is making Bologna great. Then we’ll see.”

Whether he will be joining Rasmus Hojlund in United’s attack next season is somewhat up in the air.