Erik ten Hag reckons Rasmus Hojlund’s “bravery” will lead to him impressing at Manchester United as his new striker prepares to make his debut.
The Premier League giants have required a striker for some time. They ended up plumping for potential rather than the proven Harry Kane, who instead departed Tottenham for Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich.
United have captured Hojlund in a £64million deal that could reach £72million from Serie A outfit Atalanta. A back issue has prevented him from making appearances in the irfirst three Premier League matches of the new season.
But Ten Hag says the 20-year-old is fit to make his debut at Arsenal on Sunday, possibly even from the start, and is excited by the Denmark international’s potential.
“He didn’t even play games but now in the training sessions, he confirms the impression we had of him when we scouted him,” the Man United boss said.
“We really intensely scouted him. He’s acting very good this week, very good spirit. He’s very motivated, of course, to start, to be in the team.
“He can’t wait and I think we did the right thing (waiting for his debut) but, of course, I would have appreciated it if it was from the first game on, but that was not the case.
“But now he is fit, we are happy, he will definitely strengthen the squad and give a very good impact on the team.”
Boyhood United fan Hojlund began his career at hometown club FC Copenhagen, before spells with Austria side Sturm Graz and Italian team Atalanta.
The 20-year-old scored nine goals in Serie A last season, as well as six in as many appearances for the Denmark national team.
“He is brave and that’s enough,” Ten Hag said. “When he is brave and has belief, the rest will come.”
Hojlund’s profile, career trajectory and Scandinavian roots have led to some comparisons to Erling Haaland, who United tried to sign in the past and is now firing in goals aplenty at rivals Manchester City.
Asked if he can cope with the comparisons to the Norway striker, Ten Hag said: “I think he is a different character in our squad and that makes it really exciting.
“I think for the balance in the squad, it’s very good and already we noticed this week when he came in a different spirit is coming up.
“He gives that energy, so you see other players get energy from it, so it’s very good.
“Just let him settle in, give him time. No player can act from the start.
“Of course we expect a huge impact but also he needs time to settle into the team, to settle into the way of play.
“The rest will come. I’m very convinced of that.”
Hojlund will face former club FC Copenhagen in the Champions League group stage, where United will also take on Galatasaray and face Kane-led Bayern.
“I think we have a very interesting draw,” Ten Hag said. “All big teams, but that is normal in Champions League.
“We are really looking forward because you get challenged on the highest level.”