Manchester United are reportedly interested in signing Urawa Reds goalkeeper Zion Suzuki.
The 20-year-old Japan international has been tipped to make the move to Old Trafford this summer as Erik ten Hag weighs up moving on from David de Gea.
We’ve put together everything you need to know about Suzuki.
The story so far
Suzuki was born in the city of Little Rock, Arkansas back in August 2002 – Dilemma by Nelly featuring Kelly Rowland was No.1 at the time, fact fans.
With a Ghanaian father and Japanese father, he’s eligible to represent three nations but has committed his future to the Samurai Blue after moving to the Saitama Prefecture region of Japan as a child.
He began his career with local club Urawa Reds and developed in their academy. The highly-rated ‘keeper was handed his first professional contract with the club at the age of 16, becoming the youngest-ever player to do so, and made his J1 League debut back in May 2021.
The teenage goalkeeper soon caught the eye by registering clean sheets in each of his first three appearances for the club.
He’s also steadily risen through the youth ranks at international level, going from the Under-15s to the Under-23s before making his senior bow for Japan in a 6-0 victory over Hong Kong.
Suzuki has already won three trophies as a squad player for Urawa Reds but he’s yet to establish a regular first-team spot.
He’s currently being utilised as an understudy to veteran Japan international Shusaku Nishikawa and was an unused substitute in both legs as his club beat Al Hilal in the Asian Champions League final earlier this year.
Zion Suzuki 👀pic.twitter.com/IDbREtsrEH
— United Brasil 🔰 (@UnitedBrasil_) July 6, 2023
Style of play
The immediate thing that strikes you when watching compilations of Suzuki is his distribution.
The 20-year-old looks like a thoroughly modern goalkeeper and has drawn comparisons to fellow United transfer target Andre Onana for his ability to play out from the back and his bravery in leaving his penalty area.
There have long been suggestions that Ten Hag will look to implement a more possession-focused approach at United – the rumours that he’s looking to reunite with former Ajax ‘keeper Onana and the links to Suzuki certainly give credence to the theory that De Gea’s successor will be more comfortable in using his feet to progress the ball up the pitch.
From his eight J1 League appearances to date, Suzuki has conceded a goal per game and made 18 saves, registering a 79% save rate.
Manchester United is linking with Zion Suzuki of Urawa Red Diamonds in J-League as the sub and future GK. Zion is 20 years old and 1m90. He is 🇺🇸🇯🇵🇬🇭 and cost about £5M. I'd love to see him sub for Onana in a few years, this kid is really good at using his feet + shot stopping. pic.twitter.com/8qS6elV6vX
— Total Ten Hag 🇳🇱 (@total10hag) July 6, 2023
What’s been said
“The Reds have four very interesting goalkeepers. Among them, Shusaku (Nishikawa) and Zion (Suzuki) are of a very high level,” Urawa Reds coach Maciej Skorza told reporters in a press conference in February.
“I think Zion is taller than Shusaku, and I think he’s a young player with a lot of future potential.”
The reports linking Suzuki to United have originated from Sponichi Sport, the oldest sports daily in Japan. They note that Suzuki has been valued at £5million, which would make him an all-time record export from Japanese football.
“European clubs have been paying attention to Suzuki, who has such a promising future,” reads their report.
“Among them, Manchester United seems to have been following since the Under-17 World Cup in 2017, and dispatched scouts to the U-22 Japan national team’s European tour in June.
“It is said that he gave the go sign to acquire him after witnessing his growth in the match against the Dutch national team, where he made a series of good saves.”