The comparison between Erling Haaland and Rasmus Hojlund is obvious. Both are over 6 feet tall with golden hair. Both are ruthless in the final third. And, at the start of the new Premier League season, both will play for Manchester clubs.
On Saturday, United agreed a £72m deal to sign 20-year-old Hojlund from Italy’s Atalanta. What will he bring to the Premier League and United’s attack, and can he really compete with Haaland?
After his youth in Boldklubben af 1893 and Brondby, Hojlund began his senior career in Copenhagen, making his debut at the age of 17 in 2020.
Still developing, he struggled in the Danish Super League as a youngster, leaving in January 2022 after failing to score in 19 league appearances – despite only making two. of which is the main stone.
He joined Austrian side Sturm Graz – a move that boosted his career.
In the second half of the 2021-22 season, Hojlund scored once every two games, scoring nine goals in 17 appearances. Hojlund is remarkable with his deadly left foot and impressive playing brain. The striker has become excellent at moving in space, the perfect timing to set up multiple shots.
His form led to a move south from Italian club Atalanta for £15m, 10 times what Sturm Graz paid him in January.
That number now looks like a bargain.
Last season, he scored 20 goals in 47 appearances for the Danish side in Serie A, for which he made his debut in September. In March, he scored five goals in two European Championship qualifiers for Denmark, including a hat-trick against Finland.
How does Hojlund compare to Haaland?
So the potential is there, but when you compare his numbers with those of Haaland, Hojlund falls far short of the Norwegian.
Haaland scored 36 goals in 35 appearances for Manchester City last season – scoring once every 77 minutes. In Serie A, Hojlund scores every 204 minutes. That said, Haaland has had a record season, being two years older, playing for the European champions and furthering his career.
Hojlund only had two full professional seasons. In Haaland’s second season, he scored 12 goals in 25 appearances for Molde.
So while Hojlund is far from complete, he can be molded and refined and could make the perfect candidate for United’s starting XI.
There have been glimpses of just how dangerous Hojlund can become – and his goal against Lazio last season was Haaland-esque. When Ademola Lookman made a counter-attack on the left, Hojlund sped from the middle of the field, past two defenders and stretched to make a cross.
With the support of wingers like Marcus Rashford, Alejandro Garnacho and Jadon Sancho, United can boast one of the fastest attacking trios in the Premier League.
But Hojlund also has a delicate touch and he dribbles more than Haaland – averaging about 10 more touches per game.
In a way, he has the qualities of a winger, but has the physique of a number nine.
United need a striker. While Anthony Martial was sidelined for most of last season through injury, Rashford has emerged as the team’s talisman.
The England striker was outstanding last season, scoring 30 goals in 56 games – one every 143 minutes. But his best stance is wide to the left, gripping his stronger right foot.
United have chosen not to sign Burnley loanee Wout Weghorst on a permanent deal at the start of this transfer window. They have privately ruled out approaching Paris St-Germain’s Kylian Mbappe and Tottenham’s Harry Kane, both world-class strikers.
What they will get with Hojlund is raw potential. But there are signs of quality, glimpses of him on his way to stardom.