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Manchester United agree £72m deal with Atalanta for Denmark forward: Rasmus Hojlund

Manchester United have reached an agreement with Atalanta over Rasmus Hojlund.

The deal in principle is worth an initial £64m with a further £8m in add-ons. Atalanta went into negotiations wanting £77m guaranteed.

As previously reported by Sky Sports News, the forward’s destination of choice has been Old Trafford, so there was no concern over PSG’s interest in the Denmark international.

Personal terms were no issue, with Hojlund agreeing a five-year contract with the option of an additional 12 months.

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The Premier League side were handed a boost on Saturday when Atalanta signed Almeria forward El Bilal Toure, while Hojlund was left out of the squad that played Bournemouth in a pre-season friendly.

‘Man Utd have solved three core squad issues’

“United are conscious that Hojlund is more potential than the finished article, but believe Erik ten Hag’s coaching could help mould him into an elite player.

“Marcus Rashford may need to play some games as United’s focal point while the 20-year-old adjusts and gains experience. Long-term he is seen as a talent that has the potential to become world class under Ten Hag.

United have now solved the three core squad issues the manager identified: a goalkeeper, forward and dynamic midfielder. This has been done within the budget the club set themselves, which was conditioned by Financial Fair Play regulations.

“Hojlund had made it very clear Old Trafford was his destination of choice, so even though PSG had registered their interest with a take-it-or-leave-it bid, there was no worry or concern at United’s end because they knew the player wanted to join them, they knew they had done a lot of homework on this deal and they have still stayed within their budget.

“United have talked Atalanta down from what they initially wanted. The last asking price was £77m guaranteed. We know that United have gone for £64m guaranteed, so they feel that is a win. We have to stress this is a 20-year-old who is still very inexperienced, so it is quite a hefty price for United to pay.

“But they believe he has got such a high ceiling and that he can progress and become world class under Erik ten Hag, so it’s basically backing their manager’s coaching ability and what the scouts have seen in Hojlund.

“We’re told it wasn’t because of PSG coming into the race that United have elevated their price point; it’s simply because, to get the deal done in time for the player to have enough training sessions with the squad to be ready for the start of the season, they wanted to get an agreement in place. They feel a compromise has been reached, even though they’ve gone higher than they probably would have liked to.”

Analysis: Hojlund has huge potential

Rasmus Hojlund has captured the imagination after an encouraging season in Serie A and Manchester United are betting on the 20-year-old talent to be the next superstar striker in European football. But how can they get the best from the young Dane?

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Sturm Graz’s tactics demanded Hojlund make penetrative runs in behind the opposition defence. “That needs a lot of sprints and a lot of quick decisions from our strikers, and I think those are big strengths of Rasmus,” head coach Christian Ilzer told Sky Sports.

“I think it was key that our philosophy and style fitted his skillset perfectly so he came into a good environment. Ras was a great addition to our team with his abilities. It was his speed, his general physique and his willingness to work hard against the ball.”

Erik ten Hag will welcome a pressing forward with pace but patience will be required. Hojlund has promise but United need to see significant progression to justify this outlay. He made that progress at Sturm Graz and again with Atalanta. This next step is the key one.

Ten Hag: Real Madrid defeat shows why Man Utd need a striker

Ten Hag said United’s inability to take their chances in a 2-0 friendly loss to Real Madrid on Thursday “absolutely” emphasised their need for a new striker.

United had chances of their own but failed to score with any of their 14 attempts – an all too familiar tale given their problems taking opportunities last season.

Asked if the attacking display in Texas emphasised why they were looking to sign a new striker, Ten Hag said: “Absolutely.

“There were two things – the pressing can be better from the start and scoring goals.

“I think we need more players who are capable to be in the one-on-ones and we had the situations of one-on-ones.”

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