Rafael Leao hints Milan will soon complete deal for long term Olivier Giroud replacement

After a strong start to the season, Bologna striker Joshua Zirkzee has responded to reports that AC Milan is interested in signing him next summer.

The 22-year-old forward had an unusual start to his career, having played in the academies of ADO Den Haag and Feyenoord in his home country before joining Bayern Munich in 2017.

He advanced to the first team, but playing time was scarce, so he decided to join Bologna on a permanent basis after loan spells with Parma and Anderlecht.

Zirkzee has three goals and two assists in 11 Serie A games and appears to be attracting the attention of some big clubs, including Milan. He spoke to La Gazzetta dello Sport this morning about a variety of topics, including his idols, his time at Bayern Munich, and what might happen in the future.

You’ve been compared to some of the best players…

“Even if it only happened in Italy, someone compared me to Ruud Gullit or Pierre Van Hooijdonk, Sidney’s father, because of my hair. But I’m Joshua. Only Joshua.”

Rafael Leao ‘liked’ a SempreMilan tweet which relayed Milan’s interest…

“I don’t know, but I’m not interested in these rumours… I know that when I walk around the centre of Bologna many people stop me and we talk. Yesterday, after a photo, a boy told me: ‘Goal in Florence! I’ll be there on Sunday’. I always try to play well because I don’t want to disappoint people.”

You play as a 9.5 rather than a No.9 or a No.10…

“Yes, I like the idea. When I was younger I also played as a number 10, in the Feyenoord baby team, or even as an 11 in the Den Haag. Where Motta puts me, I’m fine. I like being able to play the ball, that’s it.”

Who are your idols?

“As a child I watched Ibra, Ronaldinho, Ronaldo the Phenomenon, Van Basten, then I played with Lewandowski and Arnautovic: but I never asked the latter two for opinions or tricks. I watched them. I absorbed notions, played them. And the I put in the rest, my own.”

What does the future hold?

“The road is long and we have to work hard every day. If you ask me what I prefer between making Bologna great or going to play for a big club soon, I tell you that the right choice is the first: making Bologna great. Then we will see.”

Is it true Bayern have a buy-back clause for €40m?

“Yes, now I know. In Munich I became an adult but let’s say that street football shaped me: because it’s always a duel, you fight for yourself, if you fall on the asphalt you get hurt a lot and then you train to stand, because you feel free to play.

“A school of life, of football, in which you have to improve yourself every day. I never went home, like many children. And mother Doris got really angry. How many scoldings I got…”


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