Manchester United's Rasmus Hojlund celebrates after scoring his side's opening goal during the Champions League group stage game against Galatasaray at Old Trafford

‘A bit of Van Nistelrooy’ – What 15 ex-players have said about Man Utd’s Rasmus Hojlund

While Manchester United have endured a difficult start to the 2023/24 season, Rasmus Hojlund has been a bright spark in recent weeks. 

United signed Hojlund in the summer after agreeing to pay Atalanta an initial £64million and another £8million in potential bonuses.

The striker missed the start of the season with a back injury but has since scored three goals in five starts, including a brace against Galatasaray.

We’ve taken a look at what a host of former footballers have said about the talented 20-year-old.

Nemanja Vidic

“I heard a lot of good things about him because I played in Italy and I have a lot of friends there,” Vidic told United’s official website. “He’s very fast, he’s very young and he has a good mentality, so he still has room to develop.”

Dimitar Berbatov

“Hojlund is aggressive, tall, quick, strong, can score with his left or right foot and is positionally intelligent,” Berbatov told Betfair. “These are all good characteristics of a good striker who can become great. Hojlund has a lot of time ahead of him.”

Roy Keane

“He can do everything and I just think the way he comes in with the runs of Marcus Rashford on that side, I think he could be the missing link – not in terms of scoring 30 goals, but the way they play,” Keane told Sky Sports.

Gary Neville

“They’ve [United] got someone who looks like he’ll mess people around and get his body in there,” Neville said after Hojlund’s debut against Arsenal.

“He’s aggressive, and he’s a runner. This lad, lot of pressure on him, big price tag, but it was an encouraging start.”

Wes Brown

“Hojlund’s introduction was very good,” Brown said. “You could see he’s sharp. He’s a big strong lad. He likes to battle. He looked ready, he chased down everything, and he gave the two centre-backs a hard time.”

Phil Bardsley

“The big man came on,” Bardsley said on MUTV. “He looked good, he looked aggressive up there. He brought a freshness to the team. He’s got a presence up there, he doesn’t mind physical contact, we’ve not got that at the minute.”

Louis Saha

“Rasmus Hojlund was the right target for Manchester United over Evan Ferguson,” Saha told Paddy Power. “Both players are tremendous with exciting potential but whenever you make a decision, there needs to be no regrets.”

He added: “Hojlund came on for 25 minutes and he did very well, his strength and power showed, and this will be good for United as other than him there are no real target men at the club.

“He can occupy the two central defenders and maybe even free up space because of his speed and strength.”

Peter Schmeichel

“The half an hour we saw against Arsenal is not a false positive, in my opinion,” Schmeichel told United Review. “We saw who he is: he comes in, bullies defenders, wants the ball, isn’t afraid of getting involved, his running puts pressure on the opposition.

“He’s just got complete and utter unfulfilled potential and I’m very excited about him at United because I don’t think we’ve ever had a player like him.

“We’ve had different players in combinations, but the closest one I can get to is Wayne Rooney. Rooney wasn’t slow, but Rasmus is quick, and that’s different.

“I’m not saying Rasmus is as good as Wayne, because, my God, Wayne was so good and he achieved so much, but Rasmus could be that kind of player.”

Rio Ferdinand

“I think he is a development case, someone who you want to develop and build,” Ferdinand said on TNT Sport ahead of United’s game against Bayern Munich.

“He has got attributes that if you’re a coach or a manager, you are looking at him and going, ‘You know what, I would love to work with those attributes’. He has got great physique, he’s quick, he’s aggressive, he’s strong and from what I hear, he wants to learn.

“He has all the things that you would want. He can run from the halfway line and shrug defenders off.”

Andy Cole

“He’s got loads of energy, he’s youthful, he obviously still a bit raw but he will always aim to challenge the centre-backs,” Cole told Betfred after the defeat against Brighton.

“When I was at Newcastle United, Kevin Keegan used to say that David Kelly, who I played with, would chase a piece of paper and that’s what Rasmus does and he works really hard for his team.

“It’s a shame for him that his goal was disallowed, but Rasmus just needs to continue to work hard because he’s completely different to what we’ve had for a while. That’s the reason why the Manchester United fans are so on his side because they haven’t seen a centre forward that gives everything for a long while.”

Alan Smith

“I like what I’ve seen of Hojlund so far,” the former Arsenal striker told Lord Ping. “When he made his full debut against Brighton he was enthusiastic and quick.

“He makes good runs. I think he’s one of those players that will nick United goals in games. He had a goal ruled out against Brighton and he got a bit of a scrappy one against Bayern, but he was in the right areas, and he seems to have a poacher’s instinct. I think that’s a great sign for Erik ten Hag.

“It’s really hard to coach a poacher’s instinct into a player. If he gets a run of games, he’ll get a run of goals.”

Gary Lineker

“I’ve watched him in the first two or three games that he’s played,” Lineker said on Match of the Day after United’s 1-0 win over Burnley.

“He’s only scored the one goal so far – and that was in Europe – but he looks to me like he will score goals. I like his movement.”

On his Rest Is Football podcast, Lineker added: “Even at the weekend, I liked some of his movements and the fact he was attacking space in the box.”

Paul Scholes

“I think I saw enough tonight in a team that excited me,” Scholes said on TNT Sport after the game against Galatasaray. “Hojlund, especially them two goals.

“He took the two goals brilliantly. I absolutely loved the second goal, he gave the centre-half no chance, clean pair of heels and his finish – a composed finish. We also had a goal that got disallowed.

“And I thought, ‘Wow there’s a bit of Van Nistelrooy in there’.”

Mikael Silvestre

“I’ve liked what I’ve seen from Hojlund so far,” Silvestre told bettingexpert.com. “[He is] full of energy, pressing, good in transition, and he has a presence.

“He’s trying to find his partners, link up play, to understand the movement of everybody around him and ask to be available to his teammates. [It has been a] good start for him.”

Dion Dublin

“I like him,” the former United striker told MUTV. “He will score 20 goals if you give him the right service, he’s got a ruthless attitude.”

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