Manchester United target Serie A striker on Arsenal, AC Milan’s wishlist

Harry De Cosemo
Reported Man Utd target Joshua Zirkzee during a pre-match warm-up.
Joshua Zirkzee during a pre-match warm-up.

Manchester United are in the market for a new forward player this summer and have made Bologna’s Joshua Zirkzee their top transfer target this summer, but could face competition from Arsenal and AC Milan.

The news that Erik ten Hag will remain as manager came as an initial surprise following reports he would be sacked prior to their FA Cup final victory over Manchester City last month.

United chief Sir Jim Ratcliffe reportedly sounded out potential replacements including former Chelsea and Bayern Munich boss Thomas Tuchel, but the German’s snub has led to the backing of Ten Hag, with a new contract at Old Trafford now in the works.

Zirkzee is United’s top target?

Attention is set to turn to summer reinforcements and a new attacking option is high on the agenda. Seven Premier League goals, 10 fewer than the season before, meant it was a poor season for Marcus Rashford, while Rasmus Hojlund’s 15 in all competitions was a decent return despite the £72m the Red Devils paid Atalanta last summer.

It appears Ratcliffe and INEOS are keen to look in Italy again, with Zirkzee catching the eye last season and Sky Sports saying he is now their top target. He scored 11 Serie A goals and helped Bologna into the Champions League. It was something of a breakthrough campaign for the 23-year-old Dutchman; he struggled in his first after a move from Bayern Munich, where he began his career but only played 12 Bundesliga games and scored four goals.

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Interest in Zirkzee is high, with Arsenal, who have been chasing Benjamin Sesko and Alexander Isak this summer, and AC Milan also keen to strike a deal. Zirkzee has a £34m release clause in his contract but said last month that he isn’t thinking of a move away.

“At the moment my head is only in Bologna,’ Zirkzee told Corriere Di Bologna.

“I want to recover from the injury and have some nice holidays in the United States with my childhood friends and then we’ll see what happens.”

“[If given the option to leave] I would choose the best for the club. I will only do what makes sense in my heart.”

Zirkzee credits Bologna with his development because they gave him a taste of regular football.

“I arrived here leaving Bayern Munich. I was excited to come to Bologna because I wanted to play. The championship was of a high level, I wanted to compete,” he said.

If he were to join United over Arsenal, Milan or Bologna, he would have to sacrifice the opportunity to play in the Champions League.