Down The Wings

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Manchester United complete the signing of Rasmus Hojlund from Atalanta

Manchester United have completed the signing of Rasmus Hojlund from Atalanta for a fee of €70m including performance-related add-ons.

The new striker, was given a glorious reception at Old Trafford on Saturday afternoon prior to kick off as Man United beat RC Lens 3-1 in the penultimate game of pre-season for the Red Devils.

Signing a five-year deal until 2028 with the option of a further year, he becomes United’s third signing of the summer transfer window following deals to bring Mason Mount and Andre Onana to the club in recent weeks in what is Erik ten Hag’s second summer transfer window in the Old Trafford hotseat.

Hojlund is sure to come into the Premier League with great expectation, with the 20-year-old arriving at his new club in the midst of what many Reds fans have described to be a striker crisis; with Edinson Cavani and Cristiano Ronaldo having both left the club, with Mason Greenwood having been unavailable due to criminal allegations and with Anthony Martial barely fit to play, it is no secret that United have needed a striker to put the ball in the back of the net for some time.

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The Denmark international, with six goals in six games for his country, said: “It is no secret that I have been a fan of this great club since I was a small boy, and I dreamed of walking out at Old Trafford as a Manchester United player.

“I am incredibly excited by this opportunity to turn that dream into a reality, and I am determined to repay the faith that the club has shown in me. It is still early in my career, but I know that I am ready to make this step up and play with this group of world-class players.

“Once I had spoken to the manager, I knew that this environment would be perfect for my development. I am relishing the opportunity to work with one of the best coaches in the world. Under his guidance and support, I know that I am capable of achieving great things together with my new team-mates at this special club.”

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Ten Hag had a smile brimming from ear to ear as he posed alongside his new no.9 in the official photographs from the club. After United’s victory vs Lens, he told MUTV:

“He is a real front man. Very direct through the goal. Very good presser. Physical presence. In the balance of this squad, we needed that.

“I think he [Hojlund] has such a huge potential and now it’s up to him to exploit it and we will will support him. All the coaches and the team will.”

Whilst some fans are pessimistic about giving the burden of being the sole, out-and-out centre-forward for the club to a raw talent with only nine league goals in Serie A last season for Atalanta, others are optimistic about the acquisition, believing that Hojlund represents a new profile of striker for United as opposed to bringing in ready-made greats like Cavani or Ronaldo who arrive in the final years of their careers.

It has been widely reported that John Murtough, Richard Arnold and the other transfer negotiators at United were not only looking to land Hojlund, but also a more established striker in the form of Harry Kane or Victor Osimhen of Tottenham Hotspur and Napoli, respectively. Although, both potential selling clubs have been stubborn in their own right this summer and deals are simply not possible in United’s circumstances.

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The fact that a more senior forward will not sign should not distract fans from the quality of the Hojlund signing, however, with a feeling in and amongst the club that Ten Hag has the potential to take this young, raw talent who is eager to learn and mould him into one of the best strikers in the world in the coming years. Instead of United signing Spurs’ legend in Kane, for example, Ten Hag is looking to make his own.

Marcus Rashford, Aaron Wan-Bissaka and many more players look rejuvenated under Ten Hag. Unlike Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Jose Mourinho, the current manager is a specialist at developing talent and not one player has regressed under the Dutchman thus far. Hojlund, at 20, is only going to get better.

Standing somewhere around 6 ft 2 inches and 6 ft 3 inches tall, the Dane offers abilities as a target man in the way that no player currently does for United; however, the former FC Copenhagen (Danish) and Sturm Graz (Austrian) man is also a powerhouse with pace, power and the invaluable ability to press. Any club needs a player like that, none more so than Man United right now.

It will definitely mean that United have to adapt as a team, though. Strikers at the club have been starved of consistent service for years now since Sir Alex Ferguson retired. Starting wingers Marcus Rashford and Antony- notorious for their desire to cut inside and take a shot- need to start getting their heads up and catering to the strengths of a supremely talented forward at the head of the team. It may not be an instant transition, but it will be something that the fans and Ten Hag alike will expect to see as the season progresses.

Having not had a pre-season with his new teammates and reportedly carrying a knock that extended his medical, it would likely be the case that Hojlund starts out in the bench for the opening Premier League game on the 14th August, and possibly in a lot of games this coming campaign, although you never know what Ten Hag has in mind.

Supporters cannot help but feel like this is the sort of signing that the club should be making, too. United have lost their way in recent years in relation to striker signings. Cavani and Ronaldo were short-term solutions. Radamel Falcao and Romelu Lukaku were just big names who did not suit the style of play during their spells. Odion Ighalo and Wout Weghorst were simply bemusing signings for a club as big as United.

Martial, whilst being a long-term contributor to the club, can only be described as a hit and miss player.

In Hojlund, there is potential there for something special. It would be incredibly naïve to expect the life-long United fan to come in and score thirty goals this season at such a young age, but with the support of the fans, the backing of the manager and the right people around him, who knows what he can achieve at the Theatre of Dreams.

Welcome to Manchester United, Rasmus Hojlund!

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