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Man United 'set' to trigger striker's £33.8m release clause

Wheels in motion: Man Utd 'set' to trigger striker's £33.8m release clause
© Reuters
Manchester United reportedly prepare to trigger the €40m (£33.8m) release clause in the contract of Bologna striker Joshua Zirkzee.

Manchester United have reportedly decided to trigger the €40m (£33.8m) release clause in the contract of one of their principal attacking targets.

Despite acquiring the services of Rasmus Hojlund from Atalanta BC last year, a new striker has been a top priority on Erik ten Hag's transfer wishlist for the 2024-25 campaign.

Hojlund amassed a respectable 16 goals in his first season at Man United - including 10 in the Premier League - but he will be short of cover up front when Anthony Martial leaves as a free agent.

Man United's search for attacking reinforcements has apparently led them back to Serie A, and specifically Bologna's Joshua Zirkzee, who thrived under the wing of Thiago Motta during the 2023-24 campaign.

The former Bayern Munich man failed to make a name for himself at the Allianz Arena and joined Bologna for a little over £7m in 2022, but he had a direct hand in 19 goals from 37 matches last season.

Bologna's Joshua Zirkzee on May 11, 2024© Reuters

Man United 'preparing' to active Zirkzee option

Zirkzee came up with 11 goals of his own in 34 Serie A matches - in addition to five assists - as the Rossoblu earned a shock Champions League qualification via a fifth-placed Serie A finish.

However, with Motta now jumping ship for Juventus, Bologna are at risk of seeing some of their star playing personnel follow him out of the door, including the in-demand Zirkzee.

The 23-year-old - who is currently away with the Netherlands at Euro 2024 - is thought to be of interest to Man United, Arsenal and AC Milan, the latter of whom have hitherto been optimistic of keeping him in Serie A.

The Red Devils have other ideas, though, as The Telegraph claims that the 20-time English champions are now ready to trigger his €40m (£33.8m) release clause following talks with his entourage.

Zirkzee has supposedly become a "serious" target for Sir Jim Ratcliffe and Ten Hag over the past couple of weeks, although there are still a few hurdles to clear before he can be presented to the Old Trafford crowd.

Bologna's Joshua Zirkzee celebrates after the match on March 3, 2024© Reuters

Man United are still not believed to have agreed personal terms with Zirkzee, which is less than can be said for AC Milan, although the Red Devils will likely be able to formulate a more lucrative financial package.

Would Zirkzee be a good fit for Man United?

Looking at Man United's deal for the Dutchman purely from a business perspective, a £33.8m transaction would represent a terrific move, especially with the Red Devils only working with a starting budget of £50m before player sales.

At 6ft 4in tall, Zirkzee will also provide another intimidating physical presence in the final third, and he developed a killer touch during his time in Serie A, although as Hojlund showed, adaptation to the Premier League can take some time.

While the ex-Bayern man has a couple of years on Hojlund, 23 years of age hardly screams experience, and the lack of a seasoned goalscorer may still stick out like a sore thumb at Old Trafford.

Hojlund and Zirkzee could prove devastating in the years to come, but should the latter indeed arrive, it should only strengthen Man United's need to keep the well-versed Bruno Fernandes around.

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