Man Utd: Ratcliffe lands first signing, agrees ‘better payment terms’ than £34m release clause

Jason Soutar
Man Utd target Joshua Zirkzee before a match between the Netherlands and England
Joshua Zirkzee before a match between the Netherlands and England

Bologna striker Joshua Zirkzee will join Manchester United on a five-year contract with a medical expected to take place on Friday, according to reports.

Zirkzee had been linked with Bayern Munich and Arsenal after scoring 11 goals in Serie A last season but is now closing in on a transfer to Old Trafford.

He helped Bologna qualify for the Champions League for the first time but will not be there to represent the Italian club in Europe’s premier competition.

It was initially reported that the Dutch international had a €40million (£34million) release clause exclusive to his former club Bayern, however, it then emerged that the release clause could be triggered by any club.

Arsenal had been strongly linked with the 23-year-old with Mikel Arteta eager to bolster his frontline. Unfortunately for him, it looks like Manchester United have won the race for his signature.

‘Joshua Zirkzee to Man Utd…here we go’

Fabrizio Romano has said “here we go” on the matter, revealing that Man Utd have not triggered the £34m release clause in Zirkzee’s contract, instead negotiating a deal worth “slightly above” that fee with “better payment terms, in three years”.

Zirkzee will be the first signing of the Red Devils’ era under the ownership of Sir Jim Ratcliffe, whose team has successfully negotiated a five-year contract with the option to extend until 2030.

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This was quickly confirmed by David Ornstein, who says Zirkzee is expected to fly to England on Thursday evening ahead of a medical on Friday.

Writing for The Athletic, Ornstein claims that Man Utd will ‘pay €42.5m and stagger their payments to Bologna over a three-year period’.

This is a big signing for Erik ten Hag, who made the addition of a new forward a priority this summer following Anthony Martial’s departure.

Zirkzee will now compete with and ease the burden on Danish striker Rasmus Hojlund, who joined the Red Devils from Serie A side Atalanta for an initial £60m last summer.

Hojlund found it difficult to adapt to life in England in his debut campaign at Old Trafford but did enjoy a terrific run of form after scoring his first Premier League goal on Boxing Day.

Zirkzee will join Man Utd after being eliminated from Euro 2024 following the Netherlands’ defeat to England on Wednesday.

Next up on the transfer agenda for Ratcliffe and Ten Hag is Bayern centre-back Matthijs de Ligt.

More: Man Utd | Erik ten Hag | Every completed PL transfer this summer