A number of reports coming from Italy today are claiming that Juventus are about to pip Manchester United to the post in the race to sign Norwegian striker Erling Braut Haaland.
According to Corriere dello Sport, ‘Juve seems to have definitively beaten the competition.’ While Tuttosport claims that the deal has come about due to the strong relationship between superagent Mino Raiola and the Turin club.
The Express is also running with the story and reporting that ‘Raiola has a particularly strong relationship with Juventus chiefs, which has helped to move talks along…The super agent represents Haaland … Haaland has now reportedly agreed a deal with Juventus, and the transfer is edging closer to completion.’
If true, the news will come as a devastating blow to Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Manchester United, who have worked tirelessly in recent weeks to secure the 19-year-old’s signature.
However, there are three things about the news that do not add up.
First, Raiola is not Haaland’s agent as reported. The superagent acted in an advisory capacity during Haaland’s transfer from Molde to Red Bull Salzburg and may be doing so again now, but he does not have the influence or power over Haaland’s affairs that he does over those of his own players, such as Paul Pogba.
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Second, as reported previously, Raiola has been using what influence he does have to push Haaland to sign for either Red Bull Leipzig or Borussia Dortmund – as a kind of stepping stone transfer before moving the player on to a bigger club in, say one or two more years’ time. This would make more sense for the pizza-chef-turned-mogul, because of the small (a reported £20 million) buyout clause on the player’s current contract. There would be much more money to be made for intermediaries such as Raiola once that buyout clause is dead and buried.
Third, it has been consistently reported that when considering his next club, Haaland has asked for reassurances about playing time and first team starts. This would make perfect sense for a player of his age at this stage of his career. It seems highly unlikely that Juventus would be able to guarantee the Norwegian a regular place in a starting XI that contains the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Gonzalo Higuain and Paulo Dybala.
None of this is to say that Tuttosport’s story should be taken with a pinch of salt, but it does perhaps cast a certain amount of doubt over the outlet’s claims.