Joshua Zirkzee has been one of the main ingredients behind Bologna’s stellar campaign and is already the talk of the town in the transfer market. His career has been seesawing so far, but he seems fully on track to become a star now. It wasn’t so sure last summer after being almost an afterthought in his first season in Bologna. Whether the club did it willingly or because they didn’t find an alternative, the Felsinei’s gamble of not replacing Marko Arnautovic and rolling with the Dutchman paid off. Instead, they added two strikers in January, which suggests they won’t stand in his way if he wants to depart. Wages are a factor too.

Bologna and the Champions League

The looming question about the whole Rossoblù operation is how many pieces they’ll retain if they qualify for the Champions League. Their lead over Atalanta and Napoli isn’t insurmountable yet, and there’s another team in between, Roma. They have the bonus of being able to focus just on Serie A. Given their season-long consistency, a major swoon would be shocking; plus, the contenders are far from flawless. Looking at the rumor mill, it would appear that most cornerstones will be on their way out. In reality, that won’t be the case. The sirens will lure away a pair, but some will stick around tempted by the opportunity to star in the top continental competition. It’d be a coup if the brass convinced Thiago Motta to do that too.

A Great Fit for Many Teams

It’s tough to resist when glamorous and deep-pocketed sides come calling. Moreover, Zirkzee is easy to integrate into any side since he’s a hybrid between a center-forward and a no.10. The early knock on him is that he didn’t score enough easy goals. While he’s no peak Filippo Inzaghi, he has improved a lot. Then, his flashiness, technique, and prowess in the other parts of the game fully compensate for that, making him a super juicy target.

The marksman would be perfect for Milan, which not so secretly have at the top of their wish list. He’d be at his best with two slashers like Rafael Leao and Christian Pulisic next to him, opening room and setting them up with his fancy touches. He’d be great for Napoli too, which might be more willing than other sides to splurge thanks to the fat check for Victor Osimhen. On the other hand, they’ll have to deal with the handicap of not playing in the Champions League. While they won’t lack the money, they’ll have some convincing to do to snap up aces, which might see them a notch below other destinations.

Juventus have also been mildly linked to Zirkzee, which is odd since they already have Dusan Vlahovic. Nobody is truly untouchable in Turin. Paradoxically, the Bologna ace would mesh well with the Serbian marksman, but only if they stuck with 3-5-2 or rather a pure two-man attack. It probably wouldn’t be the case if they changed their coach.

The Hurdles in the Race

The looming question mark is whether any Serie A powerhouse will manage to keep Zirkzee in the Peninsula. There might not be a big international domino of strikers like last summer in the upcoming window, but the suitors will flock. If the Rossoblù, which are masterful sellers, don’t budge and demand Rasmus Hojlund money, as local newspaper Il Resto del Carlino reports, then he’s most likely headed abroad, probably to the Premier League.

Every major Italian side was linked to the Atalanta prodigy in the lead-up to the transfer session last year as well. Then, when push came to shove, everybody cowered when they learned how much cash it would have taken to convince La Dea to sell. Only Manchester United eventually got there. They are very different players, but their talent level and ceiling are comparable. It’s not an absurd request.

On the other hand, in addition to the lofty sums, there’s a third wheel in this case, Bayern Munich. They have a €40M buy-back clause, the right to match any offer, and are entitled to 40 percent of the fee. That surely contributes to fueling Bologna’s asking price. A return to Bavaria doesn’t make much sense for them or the striker. Still, they could always pull the trigger to flip him to another team. They figure to have a richer network of connections than Bologna. High-profile swaps, perhaps with Juventus, would be on the table if that happened. They’ll have to do their math and see what’s more profitable.

Who Can Really Afford to Sign Zirkzee

Looking at the finances of the Italian suitors, Milan and perhaps Napoli are the only ones with a shot of rivaling the foreign giants. However, the latter, in addition to the aforementioned problem, have many holes to plug. Such a big splash, albeit tasty, might not be the right route for them to resume being competitive.

Instead, the Rossoneri don’t have a lot to fix, and the no.9 is their top priority. They’ll have the budget, with or without sacrificing one of their centerpieces to have healthier balance sheets. However, will their careful and business-savvy American ownership see such a large investment as a sound financial decision, no matter who the target is? That’s the root of the issue. They should give it a go, but the answer might ultimately be negative, paving the way for his Serie A exit.

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