Manchester United ‘ahead of Arsenal in race to sign Joshua Zirkzee’

Manchester United are reportedly at the head of the queue to sign Bologna forward Joshua Zirkzee.

The 22-year-old has been in impressive form for his Italian club during the 2023-24 campaign, scoring eight goals and registering four assists in 22 appearances in all competitions.

Zirkzee has seven goals and two assists in 19 Serie A appearances, while he has also managed one goal and two assists in three Coppa Italia outings this term.

Both Man United and Arsenal have been credited with an interest in the Dutchman, who is widely expected to leave Bologna during this summer’s transfer window.

According to The Sun, the 20-time English champions are leading the race, with the club already holding talks with the forward to discuss a switch to Old Trafford later in the year.

Bologna director Marco Di Vaio recently said that the forward would not be leaving in January, while he revealed that the €40m (£35m) release clause in his contract only applies to former club Bayern Munich.

Zirkzee turned out for Bayern’s first team between 2019 and 2022, but he only managed four goals in 17 appearances for the Munich giants before joining Bologna on a permanent deal.

The Dutchman also had an impressive loan spell at Anderlecht during the 2021-22 campaign, scoring 18 times in all competitions.

Zirkzee, who is yet to represent the Netherlands at senior level, has a contract with his Italian club until June 2026, but he is expected to switch clubs at the end of the campaign.

Man United currently only have Rasmus Hojlund as their only fit centre-forward, with Anthony Martial, who has been missing since the start of December, out for another 10 weeks following a groin operation.

A deal for Zirkzee this month is seen as almost impossible, but the Red Devils are said to be open to signing a forward before the winter transfer deadline if the right opportunity arrives.

Arsenal had been intending to sign a new forward this month, with Brentford’s Ivan Toney seen as their leading target, but the Gunners will seemingly now have to wait until the end of the season to battle for his signature.

Despite seemingly wanting an upgrade on both Eddie Nketiah and Gabriel Jesus, Arsenal head coach Mikel Arteta has hinted that a new signing before the end of the winter market is unlikely.

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