Sunday, March 3, 2024

Joshua Zirkzee grabs his second chance in Italy with both hands in Bologna – crosses the line

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From Robin van Persie to Marco van Basten, Patrick Kluivert to Ruud van Nistelrooy, the Netherlands have been blessed with a number of legendary strikers. The next Dutch forward to cement his place among the greats could very well be Joshua Zierksee, who is attracting attention in Bologna’s Champions League-bound Bologna squad under manager Thiago Motta. .

The Dutch striker is in the spotlight as he moves into the top four of Serie A with Bologna in the 2023/24 season. My second stay in Italy in 2021 is going much better than the last time. At this time three years ago, Zirksee was playing for Bayern Munich, making 17 appearances in all competitions and scoring four goals.

In January 2021, the Dutch attacker will join Parma and help them fight to stay in Serie A. It was a baptism of fire for the Bayern Munich loanee, as he only made four appearances off the bench in just 109 minutes of football. Zirksee was instrumental in Parma’s only league win of the 2020/21 season, a 2-0 home win against AS Roma.

He missed four games from late February 2021 to mid-March 2021 due to lower back pain. He then missed the final 10 games of the season with a knee ligament injury, during which Parma only managed 1 point out of 30, drew 2-2 at home with Benevento, and went on to lose the next 9 games. . They won three games throughout the season and finished last in Serie A, accumulating only 20 points from 38 games.

Thiago Motta’s Bologna: A dream come true at the Stadio Renato Dallara

The 2021/22 season has been a happier period on the pitch for Joshua Zirkzee, who is currently on loan at Belgian side RSC Anderlecht. Zirksee spent over 3,000 minutes on the pitch, scoring 18 goals and providing 13 assists in 47 games. process. His performances in Belgium, while on loan at RSC Anderlecht, led Italian club Bologna, then coached by the late great Siniša Mihajlović, to punt on him, this time making him a permanent transfer to Italy for €8 million. It gave him a second chance in the soccer world. , Bayern maintains a 50% sell-on clause and a buy-back clause of around 20-25 million euros.

Zirksee has signed a four-year contract until June 2026, and Bologna have set a release clause of 40 million euros to protect their valuable asset. Unfortunately, Bologna’s poor start to the season saw them pick up just three points from their opening five games, leading to the sacking of coach Siniša Mihajlović. Just three months later, on December 16, 2022, Mihajlović sadly passed away after a three and a half year battle with leukemia.

Thiago Motta, who previously coached Genoa and Spezia, has been appointed as Bologna’s new manager and has changed the club’s fortunes on the pitch. Bologna finished a dizzyingly high 9th in the Serie A table, missing out on European football by just a few points after Juventus were suspended from European football. The new signing had to play in the waiting game, but was dropped up front and deputized for Austrian striker Marko Arnautovic, the club’s mainstay.

Arnautovic made his return to Inter Milan after scoring 10 goals in 21 appearances in Serie A. Zirksee played second fiddle, scoring two goals and providing two assists in 21 games in all competitions, with both goals coming in the Serie A game against Napoli and last season’s final game away to Lecce in a 3-2 win. However, the 2023/24 season, his second year at Bologna, was a different story for both himself and the club.

Bologna is one of the talking points in Italian and European football this season. Behind Girona’s rise in La Liga, there is Bologna in Serie A, which is currently attracting attention. They currently sit in 4th place in the Serie A table, with 31 points after the opening 17 matches, but they humiliated Roma 2-0 at home in Serie A before moving to San Siro. We had a great week, beating Inter in extra time. Goals from Sam Beukema and Dan Ndoye ended Inter’s chances of winning a third straight Coppa Italia, but Lewis Ferguson’s late winning goal saw them beat Atalanta 1-0.

This season has been a breakout season for Joshua Zirkzee in Serie A. He played in a supporting role alongside Marko Arnautovic last season, but is now the club’s mainstay. His numbers this season back that up. Playing in Thiago Motta’s free-flowing 4-2-3-1 system, Zirksee and his squad have enjoyed this season with elegant, easy-on-the-eyes one-touch football.

He has eight goals and four assists in 19 games in all competitions, including four goals in his last six Serie A games. He scored two goals in the 2-1 away win against Salernitana, one goal in the 2-1 away loss to Fiorentina, and one goal in the 2-0 win against Torino. And in the Coppa Italia, he scored two late assists for Bologna in a 2-1 victory over Inter Milan at San Siro. We will end the year against Udinese on Saturday.

After a disappointing 2021 with Parma and a break in Belgium, Joshua Zirksee is finally finding a home in Bologna. Only Romelu Lukaku (8 goals), Olivier Giroud (8 goals), Domenico Berardi (9 goals) and Lautaro Martinez have scored 7 goals. They may have what it takes to qualify for Europe for the first time in over 20 years.

Posted by: Scott Munro / @scot_munroe

Featured image: @GabFoligno / Alessandro Sabatini / Getty Images

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