Paul Merson is right - Man Utd have yet another 'superstar' on their hands
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Sometimes, all it takes is a little bit of patience and a whole lot of resolve. Like any good viking, it would appear that Rasmus Hojlund knows how to endure an unforgiving winter. Now, as the days lengthen and the frosts begin to thaw, the Manchester United striker seems ready to pillage in a manner akin to his bearded ancestors before him.
Much has been made of the Dane's sluggish start to life in the Premier League. Given that he cost £72 million, and that he has been entrusted with the responsibility of acting as the leading man for one of the most illustrious clubs in English football, perhaps that is understandable. Price tags of that magnitude carry a weight of expectation, and to that end, Hojlund did under-perform for a considerable while.
Despite being positively prolific in continental competition, the 21-year-old would go 14 matches without registering a goal in the Premier League, and wouldn't net his first strike in the division until a dramatic Boxing Day win over Aston Villa. He has scored in every league game that he has played since.
Now on a scorching streak of five in five, Hojlund was once again on hand to puncture Villa's optimism this Sunday, opening the scoring in a 2-1 United victory which, on the balance of play, some might suggest was a touch undeserved. Unai Emery certainly thought so, at least. Not that anybody at Old Trafford will care. Instead, they will most likely have spent the glowing aftermath of those three points revelling in the fact that they possess a monstrously promising young striker in irrepressible form.
But perhaps the most pleasing thing about Hojlund's sudden advent is the way that he is going about his business. There is a scrappiness to his finishing, and stubborn ugliness in his will to force the ball over the waiting goal-line. He is scoring by any means, popping up in exactly the right places at exactly the right times - just like all the best poachers do.
And it is not just those in the red half of Manchester who have been suddenly and wholly convinced of Hojlund's star power. Speaking to Sky Sports during their coverage of United's win at Villa Park, pundit Paul Merson said: "I like him. He's a young kid, he's 21 and playing for one of the biggest clubs in the world. If there was one thing you could bottle up in football, you ask anyone, it's confidence. He's a good player, I think he will be a superstar."
It is hard to disagree with the former Arsenal man. It was always going to take Hojlund a while to properly settle in England, and granted, it probably took him more time than he and many others would have liked, but now he has found his spark, he is beginning to feel like the genuine article. Even away from his club duties, he currently boasts an international return of seven goals in 10 caps for his native Denmark. There is evidently a very special player in there, and he is starting to show that on a consistent basis for both the Red Devils and his country.
There was a stage, not so very long ago, at which Hojlund was flirting perilously with the prospect of becoming nothing more than a cruel meme, a put-upon flop as anointed by the vapid discourse of reactionary social media. Since Christmas, however, he has dispelled that reputation completely. Long may it continue.