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AC Milan 'confident of winning race for Arsenal-linked striker'

AC Milan 'confident of winning race for Arsenal-linked striker'
© Reuters
AC Milan are reportedly confident of completing a deal for Bologna striker Joshua Zirkzee, also linked with Manchester United and Arsenal.

Italian giants AC Milan are reportedly optimistic of winning the race for a highly-rated Serie A striker also on the radar of Arsenal and Manchester United.

Dutch attacker Joshua Zirkzee has spearheaded Bologna's successful charge for Champions League qualification this season, coming up with 12 goals and seven assists from 37 games across all tournaments.

Eleven of those strikes and five assists have come in 34 Serie A matches for Zirkzee, who was on the books at Bayern Munich for five seasons before joining Bologna in 2022.

A prolific attacker in Bayern's youth teams, Zirkzee failed to make the grade at senior level in Bavaria and was sold to his current club for just €8.5m (£7.3m) two years ago, but his stock has risen exponentially since.

Zirkzee's contributions in the 2023-24 season were not enough to earn him a place in the Netherlands' Euro 2024 squad, but the 6ft 4in attacker remains on the radar of top continental squads regardless.

Bologna's Joshua Zirkzee celebrates after the match on March 3, 2024© Reuters

AC Milan 'confident of fending off Arsenal in Zirkzee race'

Both Arsenal and Man United have been tipped to bring Zirkzee to the Premier League, but according to Calciomercato, Milan believe that they are in pole position to sign the Dutchman this summer.

The Rossoneri are currently planning for life without veteran Frenchman Olivier Giroud, who will join MLS outfit Los Angeles FC this summer, and they have supposedly made Zirkzee their top target.

The San Siro hierarchy have supposedly been working on a deal for the Bologna striker for weeks, and the board plan to move for him regardless of the opinion of any new coach hired to replace Stefano Pioli.

Zirkzee's Bologna contract - which has two years left to run - supposedly includes a release clause of €40m (£34.3m), and Milan would be prepared to trigger that option as soon as possible in June.

The Netherlands Under-21 international has supposedly already given the green light to a move to San Siro, but personal terms are yet to be officially agreed, and Milan regard Arsenal as their chief threat thanks to their "excellent" relations with his agent Kia Joorabchian.

What Zirkzee alternatives could Man United, Arsenal target?

RB Leipzig's Benjamin Sesko on April 13, 2024© Reuters

As such, there is still the danger that Milan's move for Zirkzee could fall through, but there is supposedly optimism from all parties that the 22-year-old will end up in red and black next summer.

Consequently, both Arsenal and Man United - whose desires for new strikers in the summer window are no secret - will seemingly have to look elsewhere and potentially be prepared to pay a higher premium for a fresh face in attack.

The Gunners' former top targets, Ivan Toney and Victor Osimhen, are no longer thought to be of serious interest to the North London giants, who are instead eyeing Newcastle United's Alexander Isak and RB Leipzig's Benjamin Sesko.

Meanwhile, Man United - another suitor of Sesko's - are reported to be considering an ambitious swoop for Aston Villa hotshot Ollie Watkins, and talks have apparently been held with Joselu, on loan at Real Madrid from Espanyol.

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