Rasmus Hojlund: Manchester United sign the Danish striker – here’s all you need to know

Rasmus Hojland applauding Atalanta supporters

The comparisons between Erling Haaland and Rasmus Hojlund are obvious.

Both are over 6ft with a mop of blond hair. Both are ruthless in the final third. And when the new Premier League season starts, both will be playing for Manchester clubs.

On Saturday, the 20-year-old Hojlund sealed a £72m move to United from Italian side Atalanta.

What will he bring to the Premier League and United’s attack, and can he really rival Haaland?

Early struggles before breakthrough in Austria

After youth spells at Boldklubben af 1893 and Brondby, Hojlund began his senior career at Copenhagen, making his debut aged 17 in 2020.

Still developing, he struggled in the Danish Superliga as a youngster, leaving in January 2022 having failed to score in his 19 league appearances – though only two of those were starts.

He joined Austrian side Sturm Graz – a move that turbocharged his career.

Across the second half of the 2021-22 season, Hojlund scored a goal every other game, netting nine times in 17 starts.

Hojlund Rashford Martial
Games played 33 35 21
Goals 9 17 6
Assists 2 5 2
Minutes per goal 204 170 163
Total shots 44 81 19
Goal conversion 20% 21% 32%

Hojlund caught the eye with his lethal left foot and impressive footballing brain. The striker became exceptional at moving into space, timing runs to perfection to set up a wide variety of finishes.

His form led to a move south to Italian club Atalanta for a reported £15m, 10 times what Sturm Graz had paid for him in January.

That figure now looks like a bargain.

Last season he scored 20 goals in 47 appearances for the Serie A side and Denmark, for whom he made his debut last September.

In March, he struck five goals in two European Championship qualifiers for the Danes, including a hat-trick against Finland.

How does Hojlund match up against Haaland?

A split picture of Erling Haaland and Rasmus Hojlund

So the potential is there, but when you compare numbers, Hojlund is a long way off Haaland.

The Norwegian hit 36 goals in 35 appearances for Manchester City in the league last season – a goal every 77 minutes. In Serie A, Hojlund found the net every 204 minutes.

That said, Haaland had a record-breaking season, is two years older, plays for the European champions and is further along in his career.

Hojlund has only had two full seasons as a professional. In Haaland’s second season, he managed a more modest 12 goals in 25 appearances for Molde.

So while Hojlund is not the finished article, he can be moulded and refined and may become the perfect fit for United’s starting XI.

Hojlund celebrates a goal for Denmark

There have been glimpses of how lethal Hojlund can become – and his goal against Lazio last season was Haaland-esque. As Ademola Lookman started a counter-attack down the left wing, Hojlund sprinted from the halfway line, squeezed past two defenders and slid in to reach a cross.

With support from wingers such as Marcus Rashford, Alejandro Garnacho and Jadon Sancho, United could boast one of the fastest front threes in the Premier League.

But Hojlund also has a delicate touch and he dribbles more than Haaland – averaging about 10 more touches per match.

In a sense, he has the qualities of a winger, but the physique of a number nine.

Rasmus Hojland playing for Atalanta against Inter Milan

United are in need of a centre-forward. With Anthony Martial injured for much of last season, Rashford has become the team’s key attacking threat.

The England striker was exceptional last term, scoring 30 goals in 56 games – one every 143 minutes. But his best position is wide on the left, cutting in on his stronger right foot.

United chose not to sign Burnley loanee Wout Weghorst on a permanent deal at the start of this transfer window.

They privately ruled out making approaches for Paris St-Germain’s Kylian Mbappe and Tottenham’s Harry Kane, who are both world-class frontmen.

What they will get with Hojlund is raw potential.

But there are signs of quality, glimpses that suggest he is on the path to stardom.

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