Almost as soon as Erling Haaland arrived at Borussia Dortmund just over a year ago, talk started over what might come next. While it was never explicitly stated, the Norwegian striker clearly saw the Westfalenstadion as a good stepping stone to even bigger and better things. This notion formed the basis of Haaland’s move to the Bundesliga.
12 months on and the same talking point remains - what might those bigger and better things be? Haaland has scored 35 goals in 34 Bundesliga appearances, including six in just four Champions League outings this season. The 20-year-old is a generational talent. A potential Ballon d’Or winner.
A €75 million release clause written into Haaland’s Dortmund contract will become active in the summer of 2022, but a bidding war could be sparked before then if the Norwegian keeps up his astonishing goalscoring rate. So where could he move to? Which clubs are likely to be most interested?
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In many ways, Manchester City would be the most natural destination for Haaland. The 20-year-old has strong links to the club through his father, who played for City for three years. Haaland was even born in England and has been pictured wearing Manchester City merchandise in the past.
What’s more, City could soon be in the market for a new centre forward. Sergio Aguero is out of contract at the end of the season and with the Argentine increasingly injury prone in his twilight years, there’s no guarantee an extension will be offered. The signing of Haaland would be a real statement of intent. And it is a topic previously covered in Inside Football, where Dean Jones revealed that he expects City to make fresh enquiries.
One potential issue might be Pep Guardiola’s patchy track record in getting the most from out-and-out number nines like Haaland, but the Norwegian is good enough with the ball at his feet, despite his physically imposing frame, to survive and thrive in a team coached by the most demanding man in football management.
Of course, Haaland would likely have another option on the red side of the city. Manchester United’s interest in the striker a year ago was well documented, with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer even flying to Austria to make his sales pitch to Haaland while he was still at Red Bull Salzburg. While Edinson Cavani has since filled the centre forward role at Old Trafford, the Uruguayan is widely seen as a short-term solution. Haaland would take United’s attack to the next level.
Looking to Spain, Haaland would be a good fit for Real Madrid, although he might have to wait for Karim Benzema to finally fade before making the move to the Santiago Bernabeu. As the focal point in Zinedine Zidane’s 4-3-3 system, the Norwegian would be harnessed well. In Eden Hazard, Luka Modric, Marco Asensio, Toni Kroos and others, Haaland would be the beneficiary of one of the most productive supply lines in the game.
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However, the €570 million redevelopment of the Santiago Bernabeu is currently squeezing Real Madrid’s finances. A spending spree like the one witnessed in the summer of 2009, when Benzema, Kaka and Cristiano Ronaldo all pitched up, seems unfeasible at this moment in time and if the Spanish champions are to spend big on a superstar forward it’ll most likely be on Kylian Mbappe, where significant groundwork has already been laid.
Barcelona could use a new centre forward after the exit of Luis Suarez, but their financial situation is even more precarious than that of their historic rivals. Even at €75 million, a price well below market value for someone of Haaland’s calibre, the Catalans would struggle to find the funds to lure the Norwegian.
Elsewhere, Bayern Munich and Paris Saint-Germain could feasibly throw their hat into the ring for Haaland, but both clubs already boast world class centre forwards. The same goes for Juventus - how would Cristiano Ronaldo respond to Haaland's self-confidence? At this point, a switch to the Premier League appears most probable with the two Manchester clubs putting forward the strongest cases.
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