Incoming Manchester United striker Rasmus Hojlund is in danger of facing similar issues to Liverpool’s Darwin Nunez in his debut Premier League season, according to Rio Ferdinand.
Hojlund has passed his medical after Man Utd agreed a fee to buy him from Atalanta. The plan is to announce his arrival at Old Trafford on Saturday. Once the deal is over the line, the Denmark international will be tasked with filling the void up front for Erik ten Hag’s team.
Last season, Marcus Rashford was their top scorer, but he has openly admitted he would prefer to play on the left wing. Man Utd ended the season with Wout Weghorst as their centre-forward when he was on loan from Burnley.
Now, Hojlund is all set to take over as the long-term solution for Man Utd in attack. However, ex-Red Devils defender Ferdinand has issued a word of caution that he may not be an instant hit, even if he does have the appropriate attributes to succeed in English football.
“Anyone who has seen him play will see there are attributes there that you would like – he’s suited to the Premier League,” said Ferdinand.
“I look at it a bit like Darwin Nunez at Liverpool. Last season was his adjusting season. He’s a young striker coming to the league, everything about him fits the Premier League perfectly but it didn’t go as well as he would have liked.
“But I think this season we’ll see a different player for Liverpool. I wouldn’t be surprised if that happens with Hojlund.
“Although I’d like him to have a better season than that obviously. He may well do but it will take time to adjust.”
Sensible expectations upon Hojlund – but big fees prompt pressure
Liverpool committed to a fee that could become their club-record purchase when buying Darwin Nunez from Benfica last summer. However, he only scored nine goals from 29 appearances in his first Premier League season.
The Uruguay international has responded with four goals from four appearances in pre-season, though, so may be ready to step up in 2023-24.
Hojlund, for his part, only scored 10 goals in his first season in Serie A last term. Now, he will have another new league to adapt to.
There has been a feeling all along that Man Utd have chosen Hojlund not for their instant expectations, but for what kind of player he could become in the long term. After all, he is only 20 years old now.
By the time his first contract with Man Utd ends in either 2028 or 2029, he will still not have reached what are usually classed as the prime years of a footballer’s career.
There is a high ceiling for Hojlund, but perhaps Ferdinand’s stance is the most sensible one. Barring a sensational introduction to his new surroundings, Hojlund might not look like an €85m player immediately, but Man Utd will be hoping their investment pays off eventually.