After bitter moments at Bayern Munich and a failed loan to Parma Calcio, Joshua Zirkzee is currently shining at RSC Anderlecht. The 20-year-old striker from the Netherlands has not yet given up hope for a future in Munich.
Joshua Zirkzee’s last impression in Munich so far was not a good one. In a test match against Ajax Amsterdam at the end of July, he missed a chance to score that has rarely been given in the history of football. “He didn’t do it on purpose,” asserted coach Julian Nagelsmann afterwards. But the mere fact that he felt compelled to make this affirmation said a lot. “I hope that in a competitive game he will show a different seriousness in such a situation.”
In the Bayern jersey, Zirkzee has not been able to implement Nagelsmann’s demand since then. A few days after the dropout, he switched to the Belgian first division club RSC Anderlecht on loan. What initially seemed like the next step towards insignificance after bitter moments in Munich and a failed loan to Parma Calcio, turned out to be a success story.
According to coach Kompany, Zirkzee is too good for Belgium
At Anderlecht, Zirkzee worked hard for himself and made more competitive games in just half a year than in his previous professional career together. His record of performance suggests the highest level of professionalism in the opposing penalty area: the 1.93 meter tall striker scored eleven goals and seven assists in 25 appearances across all competitions. This is one of the reasons why he returned to the Dutch U21 national team, where he also met regularly and has now even been named captain.
After the mockery as a result of the great chance given against Ajax, which even encouraged him to completely empty his Instagram profile, Zirkzee should particularly enjoy the current experiences of success and the associated praise from all sides. According to the Belgian newspaper Het Laatste Nieuws Zirkzee belongs “on the ball to the top of Europe”. According to coach Vincent Kompany, he is too good for the Belgian league, in which he is currently third with Anderlecht, well behind promoted and sensational leaders Royale Union Saint-Gilloise.
“If that comes out of his mouth, of course, it’s a big compliment,” replied Zirkzee bei Voetbal International. “I don’t agree with him that I’m too good for Belgian football. I don’t think anyone here is too good for the Belgian league.” Regardless of that, Zirkzee’s goal is to become good enough for FC Bayern at some point. “The FC Bayern Munich chapter is not yet over,” he affirmed.
Joshua Zirkzee’s path to FC Bayern: When he was five, he was already a coach
Zirkzee at Bayern: First furious, then bitter
Zirkzee opened this chapter in 2017 when he moved from the youth department of Feyenoord Rotterdam to Munich. Zirkzee set the first highlight with his professional debut at the end of December 2019: against SC Freiburg he got into the game one minute before the end and scored the opening goal straight away. A few days later he played against VfL Wolfsburg for seven minutes, and the result was the same.
When regular striker Robert Lewandowski was injured in the second half of the season, Zirkzee’s playing times skyrocketed. He scored directly on his starting line-up against TSG Hoffenheim, but then coach Hansi Flick warned: “He’s doing a pretty good job. If he always wants to play in this position here, he still has to improve.” Flick really wanted to curb the hype surrounding the 18-year-old, and even then there were rumors about an allegedly poor attitude and lack of training zeal.
Instead of becoming a long-term replacement for Lewandowski, Zirkzee got a new competitor in the following summer, Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting. The much more experienced Bundesliga veteran turned out to be a reliable joker. Zirkzee therefore hardly got a chance, whereupon Flick transferred him to the reserve in the hope of match practice. In a derby against TSV 1860 Munich, Zirkzee saw the red card for a brutal foul and was banned for three games.
Zirkzee on Kompany: “I felt a connection immediately”
He then fled to Parma on loan, where he only made four goalless appearances due to injury and was relegated from Serie A. Back in Munich, he gave himself a huge opportunity in the friendly against Ajax. A year and a half after his furious professional debut, Zirkzee had hit rock bottom.
In search of trust, he came across Anderlecht coach Kompany, the long-time defender of Manchester City and the Belgian national team. “After a phone call with him, I immediately felt a connection,” said Zirkzee. So he let himself be loaned again – and his feeling should not be fooled.
Zirkzee’s loan contract with Anderlecht runs until the summer. A purchase option has not been agreed. According to his own statement, he is aiming to return anyway, so that he can start off in his final year of contract with FC Bayern. “I’ve already seen such players take developments that were not expected at all,” said CEO Oliver Kahn shortly before Zirkzee moved to Anderlecht.