The awakening of Rasmus Højlund
Hojlund celebrating his first Premier League goal. | Source: Oli SCARFF / AFP

On August 5, 2023, Manchester United made official the signing of Rasmus Højlund from Atalanta for 73.9 million euros. It was an exciting signing for the Mancunian team that after a great season under Erik ten Hag saw in the Danish player his own Haaland. After a year in Bergamo and 10 goals in 34 games, the striker headed to the Premier League to try to become the Red Devils' benchmark striker for the next few years. However, his adaptation to English soccer has been complicated.

Since he made his debut in September against Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium in a heart-stopping duel, he went four months without scoring a goal in the English championship, which made him one of the most criticized players in the team. But December 26 was a turning point for him. With the siren songs of possible signings for the striker as Karim Benzema or Ivan Toney, in the 82nd minute against Aston Villa he took a burden off his shoulders, scoring his first goal in Premier League with Manchester United and giving the victory to the 'red devils', with a comeback included. It is true that during this period in the Champions League he was the top scorer of the team with five goals, although they did not help much, since ten Hag's team was eliminated from the Champions League.

Despite the criticism his coach has backed him all the way: "It's not easy for a striker when he has high expectations not to score. He gets angry and pissed off when he doesn't score." And it has all had an effect, in this 2024 he sees a huge goal, in fact, he has now scored in six consecutive games, which has seen him enter Premier League history by becoming the youngest player to score in six consecutive games in the English league championship and breaking the record of Newcastle United 's Joe Willock .

Alongside him, his strike partners seem to have caught the bug. Alejandro Garnacho, Bruno Fernandes and Marcus Rashford are also having their best moment of the season and it is being reflected in the results, as Manchester United has not known defeat since 2023 and has six wins in the last 7 games, scoring very clearly (19 goals). With all this, right now the Mancunians are once again strong candidates to return to the Champions League next season.

Rasmus Højlund celebrando un gol en la <strong><a  data-cke-saved-href='https://www.vavel.com/es/futbol-internacional/2024/02/18/premier-league/1172932-pep-guardiola-tenemos-que-hacerlo-mejor-en-la-primera-mitad.html' href='https://www.vavel.com/es/futbol-internacional/2024/02/18/premier-league/1172932-pep-guardiola-tenemos-que-hacerlo-mejor-en-la-primera-mitad.html'>Premier League</a></strong>. | Fuente: GettyImages
Rasmus Højlund celebrating a goal in the Premier League. |Source: GettyImages

The eternal comparison with Haaland

Manchester City 's growth and numerous titles have created anxiety and uncertainty among the leaders and fans of the 'red devils', which has caused them to live in constant chaos over the last few years. After decades of being the best team in the city and the country, they have been overtaken by Pep Guardiola's current team. Numerous signings and constant changes in the dugout without regard for the stability of the club have been the reflection of Manchester United these seasons. All this to try to end the hegemony of the 'citizens'. And the signing of Rasmus Højlund seemed to be one more.

Given the signing of Erling Haaland by the 'Sky Blues', given his performance, the current leaders of the team of the Theater of Dreams, considered that betting on a young striker like Højlund was the best thing to do. However, this has meant a very heavy backpack for the Danish striker during these months, as his adaptation to English soccer has been very complicated. 14 league games without a goal are the best example. It is true that, both physically and footballingly, both have several similar traits, but it should be noted that Haaland has been one of the best 9' in Europe for several seasons and that Højlund is practically at the beginning of his career.

The future will tell us if Manchester United's bet on the Danish player was the right one, the last few games make us hope so, but, in the first moment the management with his signing should have been different, since the red devils are in a constant period of transition. What is clear is that he is well on his way to becoming an untouchable in Erik ten Hag's plans.

Rasmus Højlund celebrando un gol ante el <strong><a  data-cke-saved-href='https://www.vavel.com/es/futbol-internacional/2024/02/16/premier-league/1172714-previa-manchester-city-vs-chelsea-carrera-de-fondo.html' href='https://www.vavel.com/es/futbol-internacional/2024/02/16/premier-league/1172714-previa-manchester-city-vs-chelsea-carrera-de-fondo.html'>Aston Villa</a></strong>. | Fuente: GettyImages
Rasmus Højlund celebrating a goal against Aston Villa. |Source: GettyImages

Praise everywhere

Despite the fact that during these months Rasmus Højlund has been one of the targets of Manchester United by the English press and the fans of the Mancunian team, legends of the club and his coach have highlighted his figure at all times and have tried to help him. One of the most relevant in this regard has been Robin Van Persie. The retired Dutch striker decided to visit theRed Devils' sports facilities at Carrington to chat with the former Atalanta player, as reported by The Athletic . That conversation proved to be key to the Dane's goalscoring resurgence, as he has now scored in six consecutive matches.

Along with this, Old Trafford legend Paul Scholes has also praised him at all times, highlighting his qualities. After a tough defeat in the Champions League, the former Red Devils player decided to highlight him in the media: "Højlund, especially, scored his two goals brilliantly. I loved his second goal in particular. He gave the center-backs no chance. He also had another goal disallowed, and I thought, 'Wow, he's got something of Ruud van Nistelrooy'. I was thrilled.

Likewise, former Manchester United player Paul Parker has been like Scholes publicly towards Højlund, going so far as to compare him to club icon Mark Hughes: "All he wants to do is score goals. Manchester United haven't had a striker like that since Mark Hughes, and he's very much needed by the club at the moment, but they haven't used him well enough so far. Like Mark Hughes, he always tries to make the best of even a bad pass. However, he hasn't gotten to the point of complaining to his teammates, like Mark Hughes would when he receives a bad pass. If there were more players with his mentality and heart, then it wouldn't matter if they played well or not. They would be rewarded in the end.

Finally, it is worth mentioning his great patron, Erik ten Hag. The Dutch coach's credibility has been in question all season along with Højlund's, but the former Ajax coach has always been on board with the Dane: "He has the stamina and calmness to perform under such stress. He has never had a moment where he wanted to give up."

Erik ten Hag y Rasmus Højlund hablando durante un partido. | Fuente: GettyImages
Erik ten Hag and Rasmus Højlund talking during a match. |Source: GettyImages
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