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Monday, July 15, 2024

‘He’s not yet ready’: £55m ace told he made the right call not joining Man United

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It took Rasmus Hojlund 16 games to open his Premier League account for Manchester United.

No wonder the celebrations – after hooking in a dramatic late winner against Aston Villa on boxing day – were wild-eyed and emotional. But, even during the most frustrating of barren streaks, the £64 million signing maintained the support and the patience of most on the Old Trafford terraces.

Clearly, they saw the potential. They saw the vision.

They also saw Rasmus Hojlund score five times in the Champions League group-stages, overtaking the great Cristiano Ronaldo in the Manchester United history books along the way.

But, still, the point made by former Slovenia international Srecko Katanec stands. At clubs of the size of Manchester United, patience is not something given out freely. Hojlund might have survived a gruelling first few months in the Premier League with the support of the fanbase but others are not quite so fortunate.

Katanec is glad to see his young compatriot Benjamin Sesko opt to stick around at RB Leipzig for another year.

  • READ MORE: Who is Rasmus Hojlund? Inside the life of Manchester United’s dynamic Danish forward

Benjamin Sesko of RB Leipzig celebrates scoring his team's second goal during the Bundesliga match between RB Leipzig and Borussia Dortmund at Red ...

Photo by Stuart Franklin/Getty Images

Manchester United miss out on Benjamin Sesko

“He plays in the Bundesliga, he has scored 14 goals,” Katanec, a Serie A and a Cup Winners’ Cup champion with Sampdora in the 1990s, tells Tuttomercatoweb. “He is very young and powerful. He will improve further, but his value is already quite high.”

“He did well (to stay at Leipzig), because I think he’s not yet ready for the pressure of playing in a big team.”

According to Fabrizio Romano on his YouTube channel, Man United made an enquiry for Sesko, a long-time target of the Red Devils. Whether they would have triggered his £55 million release clause is another matter. Sesko put that talk to bed anyway when he signed a new contract at the Red Bull Arena.

At 21, the same age as Hojlund, Sesko has potentially over a decade waiting for him at the top level. For Katanec, a move to the likes of Manchester United, Arsenal or AC Milan can wait.

“I had read about Milan’s interest. But it’s difficult to go so young to a team like that, where if you don’t score for two or three games (there are) problems,” the former Dinamo Zagreg and Stuttgart man adds.

“In Leipzig, they are patient. They give the players time.”

United turn to Bologna ace Joshua Zirkzee

There was a sense, meanwhile, that Sesko and Hojlund would not exactly be complementary profiles for this United team. Like Erik ten Hag’s number 11, Sesko likes to play on the shoulder of defenders, using his pace and strength to dart in behind before hammering shots at goal.

Man United appear to have solidified their interest in Bologna’s Joshua Zirkzee with the ink still drying on his new Leipzig deal. In contrast, Zirkzee is more of a ‘facilitator’ than an out-and-out finisher. More of a Dimitar Berbatov or Antony Martial than a Ruud van Nistelrooy.

“(Sesko) has got incredible ‘power running’. The way he drives into different positions and pulls people apart is extremely impressive,” European football expert David Cartlidge told the On the Continent podcast after the Slovenia hitman ran Real Madrid’s backline ragged in the Champions League.

“(Sesko’s role at Leipzig is) not too different to I think what Rasmus Hojlund is doing at Man United,” Cartlidge adds.

“There is a lot of similarities I see between those two in terms of their movement, their awareness in and around the penalty area and how they link up with midfield. How they realise their role is not just about poaching, it’s about bringing the midfield into the game.”

  • READ MORE: Manchester United confirmed signings, transfers in, out, loan exits, releases for 2024/25

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