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Rasmus Hojlund: Journey From Copenhagen Young Star To MU Blockbuster

Rasmus Hojlund was sold by Copenhagen for a bargain price, but he quickly developed into one of the most feared strikers in Europe.

After MU had the worst start in the history of the Champions League group stage by losing to both Bayern Munich and Galatasaray, the future of the team under the guidance of Erik ten Hag in Europe’s top tournament is on the verge of being challenged. awake.

Thanks to Maguire’s goal and Onana’s last-minute penalty save, MU got a tough 3 points against Copenhagen.

Rasmus Hojlund has made an impressive start to the Champions League, scoring three goals in the first two matches and showing similar form to Ruud van Nistelrooy against Galatasaray. Hojlund seemed to regain consciousness on the biggest stage. Although he couldn’t score against his old club this morning, Hojlund can absolutely do it in the return match.Continue reading the article below

Indirect route to Old Trafford

There are many ways to get to Manchester United, but Hojlund’s is one of the strangest routes imaginable, the kind you find at the bottom of Skyscanner when searching for the cheapest possible flight. From Copenhagen to Manchester, via Sturm Graz and Atalanta. Total value: 103 million euros (£90 million/$109 million).

However, Copenhagen received just €1.75 million when they sold the youth striker to Sturm Graz in January 2022 and they were certainly horrified to see him develop into one of top strikers in Europe throughout his journey.

Hojlund, who began his football career on the outskirts of the Danish capital with team HUI and had a short spell at Brondby before joining Copenhagen as a teenager. He made his debut for the first team in October 2020, finishing the season with four appearances in the Danish Superliga championship.

He had the opportunity to play more in his second season, playing 15 matches, although only making one start from July to January. He did not score in the domestic competition but had an impressive performance. in the Europa Conference League campaign, scoring five goals in 11 matches, of which only one was a start.

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Cannot compete with Wind

Hojlund has faced difficulties competing for the position of Copenhagen’s sole central striker with Danish striker Jonas Wind, four years older than him. Wind scored 15 goals in the previous campaign and after a strong start to the new campaign, he was snapped up by Bundesliga side Wolfsburg for €12m (£10.5m/$12.7m) in January 2022.

It seemed like Hojlund would be the natural choice to replace Wind as main striker, but the club were not willing to put all their faith in the 18-year-old and instead signed him. Senegal international striker Khouma Babacar, free from Sassuolo.

Anticipating that he would spend more time on the bench, Hojlund left Copenhagen three days before the transfer window ended to move to Austria’s Sturm Graz.

Compare yourself to Haaland

A move to WSG Graz seems like a side step at best, if not a step back, especially considering the affection Hojlund has for Copenhagen. But being ignored by his 𝘤𝘩𝘪𝘭𝘥hood club doesn’t seem to have affected his confidence. In fact, when asked about his playing style by his new employer, he compared himself to Erling Haaland! He was included in the first team in the next match against WSG Tirol and scored two goals on his debut .

“In the club and the media, people were laughing or not taking it seriously, because he was only 18 years old and hadn’t really proven anything,” coach Christian Ilzer told The Daily Mail . “But for me, it shows that he has a confident spirit. After the first match, when he scored two goals, all the journalists understood what he was saying and saw that there were similarities, with size, strength and finishing ability.

“The field is the concert stage and he’s a rock star who rocks the arena. He’s naturally comfortable in the spotlight. That’s why he was 𝐛𝐨𝐫𝐧 to perform on stage.” the biggest stage.”

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‘It’s a perfect machine’

Tirol defender Raffael Behounek was one of Hojlund’s first victims and he was stunned after his debut. “He’s worth every penny,” Behounek told Laola1 . “He is a perfect machine. When there is space, it is very difficult to stop him.”

Hojlund scored in the next two matches for Sturm Graz and finished the season with six league goals. He scored even more at the start of his second season, scoring three times in the league and scoring in the Champions League playoff match against Dinamo Kyiv. Atalanta made an offer worth 17 million euros ($18 million) in August and the Austrian team had no hesitation in making the deal.

“We are sure that he is a diamond that needs to be polished. He has everything we look for in a striker,” Ilzer added. “He has surprised me in every aspect. His confidence and attitude at 18 years old is exceptional. Tall, fast, his finishing ability and presence in front of goal are even better even expectations. It’s like he was held back before. I wish I could have worked with him longer.”

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‘He gets stronger every day’

Like at Sturm Graz, Hojlund scored on his official debut at Atalanta, scoring in a 2–0 win over Monza. That was his only goal until the beginning of the new year, when he was forced to accept being on the reserve field in Serie A matches.

He really found form at the club at the start of 2023, scoring in each of his first four matches and putting in a spirited performance in the 2-0 win over Lazio, wreaking havoc in the home defense in 90 minutes and scored to seal the victory.

“Hojlund has spirit, energy, a fierce personality, but also surprising technical quality,” said Atalanta coach Gian Piero Gasperini. “He still has a lot of potential to improve. He is very fast, taking less than 11 seconds to run 100m without even trying his best. Considering his height, he has a low center of gravity and can move his feet very quickly. I believe he will have a great career, he is getting stronger every day.”

Hojlund ended the season as he began it by scoring against Monza. He finished the season with 9 goals in Serie A after just 20 appearances in the starting position and attracted attention from Manchester United.

“Hojlund’s talent came late’

After rejecting the possibility of recruiting Harry Kane due to the English striker’s age, the high price from Tottenham and concerns about doing business with Daniel Levy, Manchester United looked at Hojlund as a more attractive long-term investment. .

They did not expect to have to pay the £72 million ($88 million) fee they did for Hojlund, but Atalanta hold all the power and United believe the striker’s potential and record of progress cannot be overstated. His stop means their investment will be worth it in the future.

What they have seen so far is an unpolished diamond, as described by Sturm Graz coach Ilzer. Hojlund is capable of creating beautiful attacks when running between the lines, as he showed against Galatasaray, but he is still far from perfect, as evidenced by the fact that he is yet to score in the Premier League .

However, United have made a long-term commitment, unlike Copenhagen, where they gave up on Hojlund just as he was about to blossom. Danish teams are not the only ones who do not believe in Hojlund’s natural talent.

Christian Mouroux, his previous coach at first club HUI, said that Hojlund’s twin brothers, Emil and Oscar, who still play for Copenhagen, “are the more obvious talents”. He told The Daily Mail : “Rasmus is not outstanding. There are players his age who are equally excellent. There was not a single moment that made us think he would become a star. These talents The potential you saw in him today came a lot later. I’m not going to lie, I was surprised at how much Rasmus was sold for.”

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‘Hojlund is very hardworking and dedicated’

Hojlund made up for any lack of talent with an unflinching determination to improve, always practicing his shot and s𝓀𝒾𝓁𝓁s through private training sessions with his father, who built a soccer field. in the basement of the family home. And when Hojlund returned to his hometown, he returned to HUI to train.

Given that he has witnessed Hojlund’s incredible development in such a short period of time, Mouroux doesn’t blame Copenhagen for being impatient with Hojlund. “I would say the short story then is that Rasmus was always working like crazy to develop himself,” he told The Manchester Evening News. “Looking back, they have many other talented strikers and he is very young, so partly I understand why they did what they did, they trusted some other strikers who were more experienced than him.

“But I think they were surprised that he went through the journey that he did, that he went through the development process at such a rapid rate. With the knowledge that I have of him, this It’s no surprise to me because he works so hard, he’s so dedicated, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen him training by himself.

“I always knew there was something special in him, just in terms of his commitment to football, but the fact that he has done it at this rate is truly amazing.”

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‘Highly motivated’

Under the Old Trafford lights and on an emotional night as United paid tribute to Sir Bobby Charlton, Hojlund had the chance to show Copenhagen first-hand what they could have been if they had had more faith in one of their players. his master.

“This was a special match for him,” ten Hag said. “He has grown up at that club and you know he will be very encouraging. It’s important for me, for the team, but especially for him to put things in the right direction.”

Although Hojlund could not score a goal against Copenhagen, MU still had 3 points to rekindle hopes of entering the Champions League qualifying round.

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