Rasmus Hojlund: Why Manchester United want the striker and everything you need to know about him

Atalanta striker and Manchester United target Rasmus Hojlund.

Manchester United have agreed a £72million deal to sign Atalanta’s Rasmus Hojlund – but why have they spent so much money on him?

United manager Erik ten Hag has reportedly been desperate to sign the 20-year-old, making him United’s top target to lead the line.

While United plan to slowly integrate him into life as a Premier League footballer, he is regarded as one of the most exciting young talents in European football.

Here’s everything you need to know about the Denmark international and why he appeals to United.

His career so far

Born in Copenhagen in February 2003, Hojlund comes from a footballing family and is the son of former Denmark striker Anders Hojlund.

Rasmus started his career at Horsholm-Usserod Idrætsforenin but also represented Brondby and Holbaek before joining the youth set-up of his hometown club in 2017.

He scored five goals in 32 first-team appearances for Copenhagen and then joined Austrian Bundesliga side Sturm Graz for €1.8million in January 2022.

His eight-month stay in Austria yielded 12 goals and four assists in 21 appearances before Atalanta brought him to Italy in a €17million deal.

The striker then enjoyed an impressive debut season in Italy, registering 10 goals and four assists in 34 appearances in all competitions.

At international level, Hojlund worked his way through the youth ranks and made his senior debut for Denmark against Croatia in September 2022.

The 20-year-old marked his full debut by scoring a hat-trick against Finland in March and then followed that up with a brace against Kazakhstan on his next international appearance.

Strengths and style of play

Hojlund has been compared to fellow Scandinavian Erling Haaland, and he does bear several similarities with the Manchester City goal machine.

Standing at 6ft 3in, Hojlund regularly bullies defenders physically and is able to hold them off when receiving the ball.

But he’s not just a target man as he often comes deep to collect the ball and assist his side in their build-up play, passing out wide before turning and charging into the penalty area.

The 20-year-old is also renowned for his athleticism and blistering pace, which makes him a perfect fit for Atalanta’s counter-attacking style.

He has showcased incredible composure in front of goal but also possesses a cannon of a left foot so he has already scored a variety of goals in his fledgling career.

Hojlund likes to stay in central areas and can act as a lone striker or in tandem with a strike partner, as he often does with Ademola Lookman in Atalanta’s 3-5-2 formation.

Rasmus Hojlund, Atalanta, March 2023

What he’s said

– “Now that you ask, I will not hide the fact that I am a huge Manchester United fan,” he said in January. “So personally, it [joining United] would be one of the biggest things for me, but of course that doesn’t mean that I would turn down other big clubs if the offers come at some point.”

– “I think Cristiano Ronaldo is probably my idol,” he said in an interview with the Austrian Bundesliga.”I always watched Manchester United, I’m a Manchester United fan; I also supported Real Madrid when he was there.

“So, Cristiano Ronaldo is probably the one. I like his mentality, I like how ambitious and passionate he is. I also like the fact that he’s very competitive.”

– “I can see the similarities: he’s fast, I’m also fast; he’s left-footed, I’m also left-footed; he’s strong and I’m strong too,” he said when asked about Haaland. “I hope that I can reach his level, but I’ll need to train very hard and be even more focused on the pitch.”

What they’ve said about him

– “He is a huge talent who can go really far if he continues to keep his feet on the ground,” Denmark team-mate Philip Billing said.

“Manchester United… The way he plays, I can see him there from the summer. They also apparently lack a striker. He has enormous potential and I feel he is a United player.”

– “He’s doing great and he’s a good guy, he deserves the success he’s currently having,” Denmark team-mate Alexander Bah said after the game against Finland. “He’s a goal machine, and I’m not surprised he’s scored three goals.”

– “Hojlund has this spirit, energy, intensity, but also the technical quality that is just remarkable. He still has so much margin for improvement, too,” Atalanta boss Gian Piero Gasperini said.

“He has very similar characteristics to Haaland, not just his face. He is so quick, he’s under 11 seconds over 100m and that’s not even trying very hard. Considering his height, he has a low centre of gravity and can move his legs very fast. I am convinced he’ll have a great career, he just gets stronger every day.”

– “Technically and in many respects, at the age of 20, I know few forwards as strong as that,” Gasperini told Tuttomercatoweb.

“However, he has considerable room for growth… In certain situations, such as in the air, inside the penalty area or in the last pass, he has margins for growth.

“At the moment, as soon as you see players of this level, top European clubs fall upon them with offers that are difficult to pass up for a club like Atalanta.”

– “Hojlund is a great talent, physically strong and with great speed,” Atalanta captain Rafael Toloi said. “He has everything he needs to be great and is working with the right coach and with the right team.”

– “I didn’t expect him to be this strong,” Atalanta’s Marten de Roon said. “When he joined, his qualities were noticeable, but maybe his first touch and conditioning were a bit lacking. He has incredible quickness and the stamina to go for the entire 90 minutes now.”

-“Hojlund has always been a self-confident boy,” Sturm Graz manager Christian Ilzer said. “He even seems cocky if you don’t know him. He has flair, speed and an above-average footballing intelligence.”

– “There can be a comparison between Rasmus and Haaland,” Ilzer added. “In some characteristics, they are similar. Both are very fast, they also share determination and the desire to always score. Both Hojlund and Haaland are two very positive youngsters and have great confidence in their abilities.”

– “He will be worth every penny,” Tirol defender Raffael Behounek told Laola1 after Hojlund moved to Italy.”He is an absolute machine. When he has space, he is very difficult to defend against.”

– “He can do more than Haaland,” former Leeds United player Mike Grella said. “Haaland is more the type who duels with the centre-backs and just scores lots of goals.

“Hojlund can dribble past an opponent. He can keep the ball better. Hojlund can better help the team on the edge (of the penalty box) or deeper in the pitch.”

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