Ten Hag holds ‘talks’ with ‘top’ Man Utd target in effort to avoid Liverpool hijack

Joe Williams
Man Utd transfer target Joshua Zirkzee
Joshua Zirkzee has been linked with a move to Man Utd.

Man Utd boss Erik ten Hag has held private talks with Bologna forward Joshua Zirkzee in recent days as he looks to convince him to move to Old Trafford, according to reports.

AC Milan have been pursuing a deal for weeks but the reliable David Ornstein of The Athletic confirmed last week that the Red Devils’ interest in Zirkzee is ‘advanced’.

Man Utd are ‘exploring a deal’ and have held talks with Zirkzee’s representatives but there have been no talks between the two clubs over a potential £34m transfer.

The 23-year-old scored 11 goals in 34 Serie A appearances this term to help Bologna qualify for the Champions League and Sky Germany reporter Florian Plettenberg said at the time that there is a “good chance” Zirkzee could be playing at Old Trafford next season.

Plettenberg wrote on X: “Been told that concrete talks between ManUtd and Joshua Zirkzee‘s top agent Kia Joorabchian have started! #Zirkzee, a top target for the attack of #MUFC again and as revealed today – after a total agreement with AC Milan is not in sight at this stage.

“Understand, ManUtd with good chances to hijack the deal. Red Devils now working on a total verbal agreement. Open race. Ten Hag wants him. However, a deal with Milan is not out of the question.”

In an update at the end of this week, transfer expert Fabrizio Romano hinted that Man Utd are yet to “decide internally” on whether to pursue a deal for Zirkzee.

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Romano told GiveMeSport: “We know that AC Milan were in very advanced talks, and remain in very advanced talks on the player side, but still no agreement between Milan and the agents of the player on the commission.

“So the deal is still on standby between Milan and Joshua Zirkzee. Man United are informed. United are deciding internally, what do they want to do for the striker.”

However, Italian journalist Gianluca Di Marzio insists that Zirkzee has been ‘liked by Manchester United for some time’ and revealed Ten Hag talks with the striker.

Di Marzio wrote on his own website: ‘The news is that in the last few days there have been some new contacts, confirming the strong interest from the English club towards the former Bayern Munich, Anderlecht and Parma player.

‘Zirkzee is at the top of the list of Erik ten Hag, his compatriot, who has great respect for him and considers him one of the most important objectives to strengthen the squad, after a season below expectations. The coach himself spoke with the player in recent days.’

Liverpool have also been linked with Zirkzee and a recent report claimed that Arne Slot’s side could ‘steal’ the Dutch striker away from Man Utd and Milan this summer.