Man United’s answer to Haaland? How will Højlund fit in?

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Manchester United have signed Atalanta ahead Rasmus Højlund for an preliminary price of €75 million ($82m), with one other €10m in add-ons.

The 20-year-old has been likened in model to Manchester Metropolis goal-machine Erling Haaland, however is the Denmark worldwide something like his new membership rival? And the way has he risen to consideration so shortly?

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The place has he come from?

Having come by means of the FC Copenhagen academy, Højlund made his first-team debut on the age of 17 in October 2020. Regardless of constructing a status as a high-scoring ahead for the U19s and impressing with the Denmark youth sides, {the teenager} struggled to make an prompt impression at first-team stage.

Throughout two seasons, Højlund began simply two league video games for Copenhagen and from a complete of 19 appearances he netted no targets — although he did discover the web 5 instances within the Europa Convention League.

He moved to Austrian facet Sturm Graz for a modest price of €1.95m in January 2022, however they wasted no time in introducing him into the primary crew. Certainly, Højlund wanted simply 38 minutes to get on the scoresheet for his new membership after which added a second in his Austrian Bundesliga debut, a 2-2 draw at WSG Tirol.

Flourishing as certainly one of two strikers in entrance of a midfield diamond, the Dane adopted up with targets in his subsequent two matches and ended up with six from 13 video games in his first half season. A mere 5 months into his Sturm Graz profession an array of larger golf equipment from Europe had been alerted to his speedy rise and, after an equally spectacular begin to the brand new marketing campaign the place he scored three targets in 5 video games, Atalanta moved swiftly to carry him to Bergamo for €17.2m — contextually a fairly large windfall for the Austrians given Kelvin Yeboah’s €6.5m transfer to Genoa six months beforehand was the earlier departure report.

Whereas Højlund took a while to regulate to the extra aggressive Serie A atmosphere, he introduced himself correctly on the flip of the yr. He scored in 4 consecutive video games in January and obtained rave critiques after a hat trick for Denmark — in solely his third senior cap — towards Finland in March.

Given his skyrocketing progress, his bodily dominance, and the spectacular nature of some his targets, it turned evident that Atalanta would wrestle to maintain him past the summer time because the likes of Actual Madrid, Bayern Munich, Paris Saint-Germain and Manchester United confirmed curiosity. And United finally gained the race.


Centre-forward. Predominantly lined up as certainly one of two central attackers at Atalanta (he established a great understanding with former Everton star Ademola Lookman) or as a lone centre-forward in a 3-4-3 formation, Højlund has additionally efficiently spearheaded Denmark’s 4-3-3 system. He operates effectively with a supporting striker, simply as he hyperlinks in effectively in entrance of a No. 10 and with the attack-minded full-backs.

Regardless of his age, he is not restricted to any specific tactical mannequin, however as a lot as he is good at timing his runs centrally with out the ball, he tends to look to tackle defenders within the house between the left-back and the centre-back, with the intention of setting himself as much as hit a left-footed shot.


The persistent comparisons to Haaland do reveal a reasonably related skillset, bodily and tactical profile. Although missing an inch on Haaland’s 6-foot-4 body, Højlund shares the Norwegian’s imposing physique, super acceleration and long-distance tempo. In truth, Atalanta coach, Gian Piero Gasperini famously claimed Højlund can run the 100-meter dash in lower than 11 seconds.

Additionally left-footed, he carries the ball effectively at velocity and, a lot in the identical vein because the Manchester Metropolis star, he significantly thrives within the transitional part of the sport. Catching the opposing facet off stability — with the defenders backing-off — the brand new Manchester United man is ready to velocity previous defenders with the ball at his toes, sometimes creating added confusion by selecting the lane between the centre-backs and lowering the danger of being compelled into broad areas. Together with the sprinter-like tempo, he additionally brings plenty of vitality and enthusiasm to the pitch, typically animated and aware of a fired-up crowd.

Evaluating Højlund’s goal-scoring numbers (10 in 34 for Atalanta) to these of Haaland — who’s frankly an abnormality with 52 targets in 53 video games throughout his first season for Metropolis — is unnecessary, but the Dane is a finisher in improvement. He reads the circulate of the assault effectively, pulls or spins away from his markers intelligently to search out house and angles for cut-backs or tap-ins, and is glad to take adjustive touches every time required as an alternative of going for a first-time end.

It is also value mentioning that his yr in Italy served him effectively. Beneath the steerage of Gasperini his tactical self-discipline sharpened, he turned extra assured in utilizing his weaker proper foot and his urgent sport improved too.


At 20, there are inevitably sides of his sport which can be due some refinement. In his link-up play he takes full benefit of his power and stability to carry off defenders, however it could actually nonetheless be on the sloppy facet, although that and his aerial sport have seen enchancment over the previous yr.

As backed up by his numbers, Højlund can also be a aim scorer on the ascent. His ending, nevertheless, will be considerably inconsistent. At instances he can fail to select the appropriate spots and is caught in two minds with the ball ending up straight on the goalkeeper, though he tends to do loads proper in his positioning.

Tactically, it will be fascinating to find whether or not Man United boss Erik ten Hag will look to mould Højlund extra into an all-round centre-forward or finetune the poacher facet of his sport, therefore limiting his participation within the build-up part and never permitting him to drop deep.

The place he matches in

No matter his substantial switch price it ought to be emphasised that United have signed Højlund for his undisputed potential and the promise of issues to come back relatively than the completed article.

Whereas there are similarities to Haaland each stylistically and bodily, it might be naïve to anticipate Højlund to repeat the Manchester Metropolis No. 9’s freakish rapid impression (the latter’s psychological power and unwavering self-confidence are not often talked about and exhausting to quantify, however go a way in the direction of explaining his success.)

Not solely was the Norwegian a year-and-a-half older when he signed for the Metropolis, however he’d additionally damaged out and sharped his sport at a youthful age at golf equipment like FC Salzburg and Borussia Dortmund. But, there is no doubt that Højlund’s technical profile and steady progress over the previous yr make for an intriguing prospect.

Manchester United’s lack of centre-forward choices — with Marcus Rashford almost definitely to characteristic on the left of assault — would possibly effectively see Højlund being thrown in on the deep finish, it won’t faze him. Giving him time is vital and there are few coaches extra keen and competent at guiding skills from the standing of a “mission” to a totally fledged first-team common than Ten Hag.

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