Decoding the Milan Striker Saga: Zirkzee and Beyond

Milan and Bologna arranged Alexis Saelemaekers’ loan deal last summer and could soon reunite at the negotiating table for another piece of business. According to Tuttosport (via PianetaMilan), Rossoneri dispatched scouts to Stadio Renato Dall’Ara on Friday to watch highly-rated Joshua Zirkzee in action. 

Despite Bologna’s last-gasp equalizer in a gut-wrenching 1-1 draw against Genoa, emissaries have returned to base with rave reviews. It’s no secret that Milan boss Stefano Pioli is in the market for a new striker. Despite Luka Jovic’s scintillating recent form, he’s not Pioli’s ideal candidate to replace Olivier Giroud.

The Frenchman is in the autumn of his illustrious playing career. While he remains a significant cog of the Rossoneri set-up, he’s not a long-term option. At 37, Giroud has one more year of top-flight football at best, forcing Milan back into the market. It seems they’ve already identified his successor.

Zirkzee has caught the eye of technical director Geoffrey Moncada. He was reportedly present at Dall’Ara a few days ago. The 22-year-old led the line for Bologna, and despite failing to score, he left a lasting impression on the Milan chief executive. But the question is – can the seven-time European champions strike a deal with Rossoblu?

Price & Leverage

As repeatedly confirmed by Bologna’s sporting director Marco Di Vaio, Zirkzee’s €40m release clause only applies to his former club Bayern Munich. The perennial Bundesliga champions sold the Dutch youngster to the Emilia-Romagna outfit in 2022 but managed to insert a favorable buy-back clause.

However, the Bavarians are more likely to pass on the opportunity to take Zirkzee back to the Allianz Arena after landing Harry Kane in a mega-money transfer last summer. Even with Bayern out of the picture, Milan won’t capture the forward’s signature without a substantial financial sacrifice. 

Bologna could reportedly ask for up to €60m to sanction a deal, a price that would likely blow Milan out of the water. Luckily, Rossoneri might have a perfect bargaining chip to soften Rossoblu’s stance and drive the starting price down. Saelemaekers could be an ace up their sleeves. 

On loan at Bologna with a €12m option to buy, the Belgian winger has gained a prominent role in Thiago Motta’s system. If Milan can leverage Rossoblu’s intention to retain Saelemaekers’ services, maybe they could broker Zirkzee’s arrival. 


Given Zirkzee’s age, Serie A experience, cost-effective salary, and ample room for improvement, he’d be a dream signing for Milan. But he’s understandably not the only option. Rossoneri have cast a large net across the continent as part of their quest to bring a prolific frontman to San Siro. 

Lille’s long-serving stalwart Jonathan David is a long-standing target. Milan tried to open a conversation with the Ligue 1 side over the Canadian’s potential move in the summer but to no avail. David will probably be a go-to man if their pursuit of Zirkzee comes a cropper.

Stuttgart sensation Serhou Guirassy is another striker on Moncada’s shorlist. However, the 27-year-old has a host of admirers across Europe’s top-five leagues. There’s a realistic possibility for the ex-Koln star to leave the club in January. 

Another Bundesliga marksman has parachuted on Milan’s radar. RB Leipzig’s Benjamin Sesko has drawn Moncada’s attention. With Marco Rose preferring Lois Openda, the Slovenia international could be available next summer. 

Zirkzee Wasn’t the Only Subject of Inquiry on Friday

In addition to the in-demand Bologna starlet, Milan are keeping close tabs on another Serie A up-and-comer. Genoa’s Albert Gudmundsson is another exciting name in Moncada’s notebook. The Iceland international’s superb form in his maiden Serie A campaign hasn’t gone unnoticed.

Gudmundsson flourished on Friday, putting Alberto Gilardino’s side in front with his eighth league goal of 2023/24. The 26-year-old nearly won the game at the death, but his well-taken free-kick rattled off the crossbar. It was, nonetheless, an emphatic performance.

Unlike Zirkzee, Gudmundsson should be a more affordable signing for Milan. But he’s not a ‘classic No9,’ which means the two are not mutually exclusive.