Bologna identify struggling Super Eagles-eligible forward as Zirkzee’s replacement

Fueled by their impressive rise under manager Thiago Motta, Bologna are set to embark on a historic Champions League campaign for the first time in 60 years. Naturally, this monumental achievement demands reinforcements, and the Serie A outfit are actively scouting potential signings to bolster their squad for the upcoming challenge.

One key area of focus appears to be the striker position. With reports suggesting a possible departure of Arsenal-linked striker Joshua Zirkzee, Bologna have turned their attention to potential replacements.

According to Ignazio Genuardi, Bologna have been keeping tabs on two Ligue 1 players: Olympique Lyonnais’s Gift Orban (21) and Stade Brestois’ Lilian Brassier (24). 

Man United ready to splash €50m for Super Eagles-eligible Joshua Zirkzee
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Super Eagles Eligible Joshua ZIrkzee touted to move

Dutch-Nigerian forward Joshua Zirkzee has been a revelation for Bologna this season, spearheading their historic qualification for the Champions League for the first time in 60 years. However, his impressive form – 11 goals and 5 assists in 34 Serie A games – has attracted interest from major clubs, casting a shadow over his future with the Rossoblu.

Zirkzee's rich vein of form hasn't gone unnoticed. Premier League giants Arsenal and Manchester United are reportedly keen on acquiring the 22-year-old striker, with Arsenal supposedly willing to meet Bologna's €70 million asking price.

Despite the transfer rumors swirling, Zirkzee remains tight-lipped about his future. In a recent interview with Sky Sports, he acknowledged the ongoing discussions but emphasised his commitment to finishing the season strong with Bologna and experiencing Champions League football:

“After the holidays we'll see what will happen. As far as I know so far I will play the Champions League with Bologna but I can't say anything. There's a lot going on, in the meantime we're thinking about finishing the season well, and then we'll come back after the holidays and see what happens.”

Napoli target Nigerian forward, Mexican hotshot
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Zirkzee's next appearance will be against Juventus on Monday night, marking one of Bologna's final games before the season concludes. Whether this will be his last stand with the club before a potential summer move remains to be seen.

One thing is certain: his performances have been instrumental in Bologna's historic achievement, and his future decision will be crucial for both the player and the club.

UCL nights for Gift Orban?

With the prospect of losing their talisman Joshua Zirkzee, Bologna are taking proactive measures to bolster their attack. The Serie A club, embarking on a historic European adventure for the first time in 60 years, have set their sights on potential replacements. However, their pursuit of these strikers presents contrasting scenarios.

21-year-old Nigerian forward Gift Orban has emerged as a name on Bologna's radar. His blistering start to the Belgian First Division A caught the eye of several clubs. However, Orban's move to Lyon in January 2024 seems to have put a damper on a potential transfer. While he has shown glimpses of his talent (3 goals in 16 games), he's still adjusting to the demands of Ligue 1.

Gift Orban OL Lyon
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Exit likely for Orban

Reports in the French media suggest that 21-year-old Nigerian forward Gift Orban could leave Olympique Lyon at the end of the season.

Orban joined Lyon at the start of the season after showcasing his talent with Belgian club Gent, where he scored 18 goals in 33 appearances during the previous season.

Roped into the Lyon setup to primarily understudy club legend Alexandre Lacazette, who is entering the twilight of his career, the Nigerian international has flattered to deceive since his arrival at Lyon.

This has got the Lyon hierarchy eyeing a potential replacement for Orban, who has made 12 Ligue 1 appearances with two starts for Lyon this term.

Earlier reports emerged that Ajax forward Georges Mikautadze could be in line to replace Orban at Lyon.

The 23-year-old Georgia international, who is currently on loan from Ajax Amsterdam to Ligue 1 side Metz, has had a fantastic season.

A new development has surfaced linking the former Ligue 1 champions to a player from FC Barcelona.

According to Mundo Deportivo, John Textor and David Friio already have an FC Barcelona player in their sights. Lyon are reportedly eyeing a move for Vitor Roque.

Having arrived last January at Barça for €40 million from Athletico Paranaense, the young 19-year-old striker is regarded as a promising talent for Brazilian football. However, his adaptation at the Catalan club has proven to be rather challenging.

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Despite flashes of brilliance, Orban has found consistent playing time hard to come by in Lyon's competitive attacking lineup.

With stiff competition for starting spots, he has often been relegated to a substitute role, limiting his opportunities to replicate his scoring prowess from his Gent days.

Considering his limited opportunities at Lyon, seeking a loan move to another club could be a strategic move for Orban to gain valuable experience and exposure at a higher level of competition.

Prior to his stint at Lyon, Orban was a subject of interest from Bundesliga club Eintracht Frankfurt and English Premier League side Fulham.

Narrowly missing out on the 2023 CAF Young Player of the Year accolade, Orban's nomination among other gifted African footballers underscores his immense potential and bright future.

A departure from Lyon might just be the spark required for him to realise his aspirations and carve a niche for himself in the sport.

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Toyosi Afolayan

Toyosi Afolayan is a sports journalist who breathes life into the games we love. He loves to combine insightful analysis with historical background, creating a richer understanding of sports. Afolayan's expertise ranges from captivating narratives to live broadcasts, captivating audiences across platforms like Ojbsport, AllNigeriaSoccer, TVC Entertainment, Bounce Networks, Kwara TV, ICIR, EaglesTracker, and NFF TV. His background in History and International Studies adds depth, revealing the connections between sports, politics, and national identity.