Scouting Report: Joshua Zirkzee
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Bologna is arguably one of the main surprises in the current campaign. The team, directed by Calcio legend Thiago Motta is suited fourth in the Serie A, taking out of Champions League places historical teams such as Lazio, Roma, Napoli and Atalanta. Bologna, with the third youngest squad in Serie A, has stunned the league by employing a joyful and entertaining way of playing, creating a compact team mixing young ballers with experienced players. One of his main names, who is giving a lot to talk about is his reference man, Joshua Zirkzee.

Born 22/05/2001 in the Netherlands, Joshua Zirkzee is a Bayern academy product who at his early 22 years old is showing a great level of football maturity playing for Bologna. Part of Ado Den Haag and Feyenoord in his academy days back in his country, he was catched up for Bayern Munich U17 team. During his four year period at Bayern, where he reached the first team and made his senior debut, he never achieved to become an important player for the club, being loaned in the 2020-21 season to Parma and in the 2021-22 season to Anderlecht. This second time on loan allowed him to show great potential by playing regularly, and Bologna decided to sign him for 8,5M€. Now he has become their current goal scorer, with 16 goal contributions and is being one of the names to take into account in international football. 

Joshua mainly starts as center forward and main reference in the mainly 4-1-4-1, 4-3-3 and 4-2-3-1 formations employed by Bologna during his matches. His characteristics though, would easily allow him to perform deeper and act as attacking midfielder. Zirkzee stands out for his link-up play, movement, ball dominance and verticality with the ball on his feet. 

Zirkzee could be considered an all-action striker, able to adapt to any football style or formations, but he feels much more comfortable when taking part in the link up play and entering in contact with the ball. In that sense, he commonly tends to come deeper to receive the ball and help his team progress into attack. He is great on creating separation from his markers and placing himself between lines, making defenders come out of position. His spatial awareness is great in those situations, detecting teammates to play fast combinations when feeling under pressure or turning around and trying to attack the rival defense by vertical runs. He is a really mobile player who has adapted not only to move between lines or come wide to support the play short, but also to make vertical and diagonal in depth attacks. As he is not a specifically fast player, he takes advantage of his body faints and fake movements to take advantage of rival defenders and start the run ahead of them, being able to compete well in long distance runs. He is also smart in exiting his impact zones to come to receive wide and create overloads on the sides, mainly on the left one, where he loves to receive and start powerful carries moving diagonally to inside positions. But he becomes determinant when operating in the rival penalty box as Zirkzee demonstrates intelligent movement off the ball and a knack for positioning himself in goal-scoring positions. He has a keen sense of anticipation, enabling him to exploit spaces in the opposition's defense.

Being an striker profile, one of Zirkzee's notable attributes is his ability to find the back of the net with precision and consistency. He displays excellent composure in front of goal, often capitalizing on scoring opportunities with well-placed shots. While primarily recognized for his goal-scoring abilities, Joshua also possesses solid technical skills. He is capable of dribbling past defenders and executing intricate passes to link up with teammates in the final third, being also able to filter last goals scoring passes. He displays good ball dominance, close ball control and fast footwork, being able to operate in tight spaces, which many times helps him to create shooting opportunities in the penalty box. Zirkzee possesses an imposing physical stature, standing tall and strong, which he effectively utilizes to hold off defenders (being able to play with the back to the goal as main reference) and win aerial duels.

Overall, while Joshua Zirkzee's defensive contributions may not be as prominent as his attacking prowess, he still plays a role in supporting his team defensively. He actively participates in pressing opposition defenders when his team is out of possession. He applies pressure on the opposing team's backline, aiming to force turnovers and regain possession higher up the pitch. Although his main role is in the attacking third, Zirkzee demonstrates a willingness to track back and support his teammates defensively when required. He tracks the movement of opposition midfielders and full-backs, helping to close down passing lanes and disrupt their build-up play. The Dutch´s physical presence allows him to provide defensive cover during set-piece situations. He uses his strength and aerial ability to challenge for defensive headers and clearances, aiding his team in defending against aerial threats from the opposition.

Overall, Joshua Zirkzee's playing style is characterized by his physical dominance, clinical finishing, intelligent movement, technical proficiency, and versatility in attack. These qualities make him a valuable asset for any team seeking a potent goal-scoring threat. Despite not shining at his Bayern period, he has become a much more mature and developed player, who will for sure be on the radar of top European clubs with the sight set on the next summer transfer window. 

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