Why Man United’s new big-money signing will not be able to play two matches a week

Rasmus Hojlund, Man United striker - Photo Credit || X, formerly Twitter

FOOTBALL Why Man United’s new big-money signing will not be able to play two matches a week

Mark Kinyanjui 11:33 - 09.08.2023

Hojlund will miss United’s opening two games of the season, but he may fail to take part in more games across the season.

Manchester United have been dealt a massive blow as a revelation in Rasmus Hojlund's MRI scan conducted as part of his medical before completing the switch from Atalanta could limit his playing time this season.

The scan revealed a stress response hotspot in his back, which can be the start of stress fractures in young players.

Hojlund was unveiled as a United player before kick-off at Old Trafford in a pre-season friendly against Lens last Saturday, but it might take a while before they start seeing him in action.

The 20-year-old will not feature in the side’s opening two games of the season against Wolves and Tottenham, with some sources at United indicating that the issue is more serious than the club disclosed after completing his transfer from Atalanta last week.

United revealed in their official message that it will take weeks for Hojland to reach match fitness due to a small issue sustained in pre-season training at Atalanta, but did not go into any detail about the nature of the injury. 

According to reports, the back problem was picked up during his medical which led to Hojland being sent for an MRI, although clubs seeking second opinions is not unusual in a transfer of that magnitude.

The club hopes that Hojlund's injury will not keep him out for a long time as it did in the case of Marcus Rashford, who missed much of the 2019/2020 season with a double back stress fracture. 

United's initial response to last week's MRI has been to give Hojlund more time to improve his fitness and to reassure the player that he is a long-term signing and will not be rushed into the team. 

According to medical sources outside the club, Hojlund might not be able to play two matches a week for some time even after he returns to action for fear of developing into a stress fracture, which would lead to a lengthy lay-off.

Stress response hotspots are often suffered by athletes who have had a high workload at a young age, which is the case for Hojlund. 

Hojulund made his first-team debut at 17 for Copenhagen before being sold to Austrian club Sturm Graz in January 2022.

His time in Austria would only last seven months before Atalanta came calling for £15m.

United paid almost five times that amount 12 months later amidst competition from Chelsea, Paris Saint-Germain, Juventus and Inter Milan despite identifying the youngster’s back problem.

Ten Hag is hoping to build a new-look attack around Hojlund's goal-scoring talent with United giving him a five-year contract, which includes the option to extend by a further 12 months.