Joshua Zirkzee emerged as a hot commodity after impressive displays for both the Feyenoord and Dutch youth teams. Bayern Munich were able to snatch the young Dutchman up last summer in spite of competition from Manchester United, Everton, Arsenal and Benfica.
Last season he plied his trade for the Bayern’s U17s but will make the jump to the U19 squad after featuring for the first team in their preseason tour of the United States. The center forward position is a crowded one for Bayern II, with the likes of Franck Evina and Kwasi Wriedt, but if the 17-year-old hitman can produce as he did for the U17s he may be able to force his way into the second team like fellow wunderkind Oliver Batista Meier.
Due to his relatively early move, his statistics are limited during his time in Holland. In four appearances for the Feyenrood U17 squad, Zirkzee produced one assist, while adding one goal in one substitute appearance for the Feyenrood U19s. While on national team duty he is averaging a goal every other match with three goals in six matches for the U16s and one goal and two matches for the U17s.
Although this sample size is limited, he has demonstrated his quality for Bayern’s U17 team, scoring 16 goals and assisting nine in 19 matches, leading his team to the final where they lost to Borussia Dortmund’s U17 squad, 3-2. So far in this campaign, the prolific striker has made two substitute appearances for the U19s, but his availability was limited due to his participation in the preseason tour. His field time was not wasted, though. The starlet fit in well with the first team, contributing a goal in a 3-1 win over Paris Saint Germain (all stats via transfermarkt and ESPN).
Expect him to start collecting regular minutes when the U19s are back in action on September 15.
This kid, who looks anything but, really has everything you want in an elite striker. Standing just shy of 6’3’’ with a sturdy frame, Zirkzee is a man among boys. He has a dominant physical presence and looks like he could already be in the Bundesliga. His speed is impressive as well, as he glides past defenders with relative ease. He utilizes his deceptive quickness with and without the ball to get in behind the defense and to make intelligent runs. I generally don’t like making comparisons because they can be lazy and way off the mark, but I am going to make an exception. The young Dutch striker seems to be in the mold of Romelu Lukaku: tall, strong, pacey, while being equal parts skilled, intelligent and commanding on the ball.
His overall awareness is impressive for his age. Like his Belgian counterpart, he likes to drop deep and hold the ball up. He is composed and does not shy away from contact. He can play incisive passes and seems to have a good understanding of when to lay off the ball to his teammates. Most importantly, for a striker, the rangy forward is crafty off the ball, timing runs well and popping up in dangerous positions.
His skillset once he gets the ball is advanced beyond his years. He not only has a range of passing not common for front men, his dribbling and agility are surprisingly good considering his size. He has a soft first touch and is elegant in possession. But there is a reason this hot prospect plays up top: the skilled forward finishes the ball with precision, scoring with his head and preferred right foot in a variety of ways, as he demonstrated in training.
The Dutch wunderkind truly has it all. As he tests his mettle against tougher, more physically-gifted opposition he continues to show that he has the necessary tools to flourish. Unlike Meier and other prospects I will highlight, it is difficult to point out a glaring weakness in his game. Although I am clearly buying into the hype, Zirkzee’s physical, mental and technical abilities indicate he may have what it takes to break into the first team if his trajectory continues as it has. At only 17 he has plenty of time, but do not be surprised if he is coming on at the Allianz sooner rather than later.
Next Up: Woo-yeong Jeong