Bologna aren’t willing to let breakout star Joshua Zirkzee leave for cheap in the summer, believing he should command the same fee that Manchester United paid Atalanta for Rasmus Hojlund.

Zirkzee has been one of the surprises of the season in Thiago Motta’s squad, scoring nine goals and providing four assists across 24 league games so far this term. His work has quickly attracted the attention of a number of top clubs, including Milan, Manchester United and Napoli.

Bologna are willing to sell Zirkzee in the summer, aware of the crazy fees paid for strikers in the modern transfer market, and hold a strong negotiating position. Whilst Bayern Munich do hold a €40m buy-back clause, they seem unlikely to activate it, giving the Rossoblu a strong foundation.

The 22-year-old Dutchman is also contracted to the club to June 2026, giving them some leeway on that front. As such, they are reportedly hoping to receive a fee similar or more than what Manchester United paid for Hojlund, €75m plus around €10m in add-ons.

Considering what Zirkzee has shown this season then, is it fair for Bologna to command such a high fee for the young striker?

 
The graph above compares Zirkzee’s work in Serie A this season in blue, from a sample size of 2006 minutes, compared to Hojlund’s efforts in the Italian topflight last term in red, a sample size of 1834 minutes.

In a few aspects, the two young strikers look similar; both have produced a similar number of assists, 0.13 per 90 for the Dutchman compared to 0.10 per 90 for the Dane, total shots, 2.92 per 90 for the former and 2.65 per 90 for the latter, and successful take-ons, 1.57 per 90 compared to 1.37 per 90.

There are a number of clear differences between Zirkzee and Hojlund, however. Whilst the former is a more of well-rounded forward, playing far more passes and putting in more work defensively, the latter acts more as a traditional number nine, being the focal point of his team’s attack.

Whilst it’s clear that the pair were asked to contribute in different ways in their respective systems, it also raises a question regarding the market values of different types of centre forwards and if a pure goalscorer is worth more in the modern game compared to a less prolific but harder grafting striker.

Words: @ApolloHeyes

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