Exit clause in place?
You can add Bologna forward Joshua Zirkzee to the long list of strikers linked with a January move to the Premier League. A glimpse at the Transfermarkt rumor mill reveals that Zirkzee has been linked with a potential transfer to Manchester United and Arsenal. According to a report by The Telegraph, Arsenal have eyed up the 22-year-old striker. Sport1 and ESPN, in the meantime, have linked Zirkzee with a move to Man Utd, where Danish striker Rasmus Højlund has failed to live up to expectations. According to a report by Sky Germany, Man United appreciate the player Zirkzee has an exit clause in his Bologna contract that will become active in the summer.
Man United and Arsenal are unlikely to be the only clubs interested in signing the Dutch U21 national team player (seven goals in 19 games. It is not surprising that Zirkzee’s market value has exploded this season, even though he has scored eight goals and four assists in 22 games across all competitions for Bologna. Zirkzee joined Bologna for just €8.5m in the summer of 2022 and as part of the Serie A market value update in December, saw his market value grow from €13m to €30m.
A product of the Feyenoord and Bayern Munich academies, Zirkzee was highly regarded with the Bavarian giants but struggled for playing time. Bayern have a buy-back option worth €20-25m, and the Bundesliga giants are set to earn 50% of any future transfer. The fact that Bayern have installed both those contract options in Zirkzee’s contract shows that the club believed in the Dutchman’s potential despite selling him to Bologna. Bayern’s contract option could also become a factor should any club submit a significant offer, as the Bundesliga record champions could trigger the buy-back option to earn a more sizeable transfer fee.
Zirkzee, Pulisic, Yıldız & Co.: The market value winners of the Serie A update
Michael Kayode | Fiorentina | +€7m
New market value: €12m
Éderson | Atalanta | +€7m
New market value: €27m
Christian Pulisic | Milan | +€7m
New market value: €32m
Riccardo Calafiori | Bologna | +€8m
New market value: €13m
Kenan Yıldız | Juventus | +€9m
New market value: €10
Radu Drăgușin | Genua | +€10m
© imago images
New market value: €20m
Bremer | Juventus | +€10m
New market value: €50m
Lautaro Martínez | Inter | +€10m
New market value: €110m
Marcus Thuram | Inter | +€15m
New market value: €55m
Matías Soulé | Frosinone | +17 Mio. €
New market value: €25m
Joshua Zirkzee | Bologna | +€17m
New market value: €30m
Joshua Zirkzee: Bologna striker “is a complete forward”
“This season, he has finally taken the long-awaited step forward,” Area Manager Italy Jatin Dietl said. “He has also started to score regularly in the last few months. We will see if he can prove to be able to play on this level for the whole season, but with the current prices being paid for center forwards like him, they will probably have to pay well above his current market value in the summer.” Indeed, the market for center-forwards has been particularly bullish as there is a high demand in physical center-forwards, but after years in which clubs have neglected the production of that type of player, there is a relatively short supply of that sort of player. That’s one of the reasons why the likes of Højlund fetched a €74m transfer fee last summer despite still being relatively unproven at the highest level.
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But what sort of player is Zirkzee? “He is a very fast center forward despite his physical size,” Dietl said. “Physically strong, very good header, good shooting technique, and good at defending the ball. Gifted with excellent quality, he has become one of the most technical strikers in Serie A. He often drops back to the Trequartista line and even further behind, moving freely across the entire offensive front. Zirkzee is a complete forward who scores in every way, proving extremely unpredictable to opposing defenders.”
What does that look like in numbers? The seven goals scored this season rank the striker fifth in Serie A in a group of five players that also includes Dusan Vlahovic and Victor Osimhen (overview). According to Wyscout, Zirkzee has been outperforming his xG this season by +1.26 goals. Zirkzee’s goalscoring productivity is based on the Dutchman being ranked ninth in Serie A with 42 total shots on goal,13th in the league with 45.24% shots on target, and 14th with 58 touches inside the penalty box. Those numbers are encouraging, but they also show room to grow. That growth will be necessary if Zirkzee wants to make the step back to an absolute European top club.