Joshua Zirkzee: Who is Bayern Munich's latest teenage star and Matchday 16's Man of the Matchday?
Coming on as a late replacement for a world-class star, scoring with your first touch and keeping the biggest club in Germany in the hunt for an eighth straight title. It's hard to imagine making a better Bundesliga debut than Joshua Zirkzee.
After his late heroics against Freiburg, bundesliga.com shines the spotlight on the Bayern Munich youngster, whose name you need to remember...
Club: Bayern Munich
Country: Netherlands (9 games/8 goals for U19s)
Born in Schiedam, on the outskirts of Rotterdam, Zirkzee began playing with local clubs Hekelinger and Spartaan '20 as a boy before being scouted by Den Haag. At 15, he moved to Dutch giants Feyenoord, but it was only a year later that Bayern came calling, and the highly-rated youngster was soon packing his bags for Säbener Straße.
"Bayern's plan for me sounded very good," Zirkzee told Panna! magazine. "It seemed like the best option to improve. The training is different from the Netherlands or England, there are lots of extra sessions. We work on finishing, especially, which is very important to me."
After arriving in Germany in 2017, Zirkzee worked his way up through the Bayern U17s and U19s to the reserves, picking up invaluable advice from fellow countryman Arjen Robben. He travelled to the USA with the senior squad in 2018 as part of their pre-season tour, scoring on his first-team debut against PSG.
This term, he has netted four goals in three games in the UEFA Youth League – including a hat-trick against Olympiacos – and two more goals in the U19 Bundesliga and Junior DFB Cup. He has yet to net for the reserves in Germany's third tier, but has already opened his account in the Bundesliga with the first team. He also has eight goals in nine games for the Dutch U19s.
Plays a bit like: Pierre van Hooijdonk
Zirkzee has more in common with Dutch legend Pierre van Hooijdonk than just his height (both men stand at 6'4") and instantly recognisable haircut. As his goal against Freiburg showed, the teenager has the same predatory instincts that helped van Hooijdonk net over 350 goals during a prolific career.
An imposing forward with a serious turn of pace, the 18-year-old is also strong in the air and an intelligent reader of the game, making it hard for opposing defences to track his movement. Sound familiar? No doubt he has also picked up a few tricks from the Bundesliga's ultimate goal machine, Robert Lewandowski, since he began training with the first-team squad in late November.
Did you know?
After scoring 33 goals in 27 games for the Feyenoord youth teams, Zirkzee found himself on the radar of a host of English Premier League clubs, including Arsenal and Manchester United. In summer 2017, former Netherlands star Ronald Koeman – who was coaching Everton at the time – convinced him to take part in the General CEE Cup, where he was one of the team's standout performers. Ultimately, though, Zirkzee decided against a move to England, and Everton's loss was Bayern's gain.
Watch: Alaba on Zirkzee!
What they're saying
"He has only been training with us for three weeks, but his development has been remarkable. He still has a long way to go, but this is definitely an early reward." – Bayern coach Hansi Flick, after Zirkzee's goal against Freiburg
"It's awesome, he's earned it. He works really hard and clearly wants to improve, to listen and learn. I'm very happy for him. It says a lot when you see the coach bringing him on. And now he's repaid the coach's faith with a goal, which is even better." – Bayern teammate David Alaba
"He's the kind of player who is highly sought-after: a powerful striker who keeps his cool and doesn't let himself be caught out. He has a great understanding of football and reacts quickly to different situations." – Bayern academy manager Holger Seitz
Bayern promote four youth products to first-team
Hansi Flick confirmed that Singh, Zirkzee, Batista Meier and Dajaku are now a part of the first-team squad permanently.
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