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Did Bayern Munich make a mistake in letting Joshua Zirkzee go?

Has Zirkzee’s lethargic play style evolved?

Bologna FC v SS Lazio - Serie A TIM Photo by Marco Rosi - SS Lazio/Getty Images

Bayern Munich let Dutch striker Joshua Zirkzee leave for Italian side Bologna at the start of last season and just a year later he’s tearing up Serie A with his performances.

Zirkzee has once again won Serie A Player of the Month, this time for the month of December, scoring two goals and providing two assists (both of which were against Inter Milan) in six matches for Bologna including victories over Italian heavyweights Roma, Inter Milan, and Atalanta (FOTMOB).

For the season as a whole, Zirkzee’s numbers don’t look particularly impressive as his seven goals and two assists in nineteen league appearances land him in just the 38th percentile for non-penalty goals and the 14th percentile for non-penalty expected goals compared to other forwards in the top 5 leagues (FBREF). This indicates that Zirkzee has either been lucky with his finishing or has good enough finishing to propel his numbers above his xG. It’s also worth noting that most of Zirkzee’s best performances have come recently, so data from the start of the season might be serving to obscure his recent growth.

Of note, Zirkzee excels in the creative part of his game, which draws comparisons to Bayern starman Harry Kane. Zirkzee completes a lot of progressive passes and is in the 84th percentile for shot-creating actions among forwards in the top 5 leagues. Zirkzee also has a higher amount of defensive actions per match than the average forward, which paints the picture of a striker who likes to drop deep (FBREF).

If Bayern sporting director Christoph Freund wants to pull the trigger and bring the 22-year-old back to Munich there is reported to be a buyback clause in his contract that can be activated for 20-25 million Euros.

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