With more rumours of Edinson Cavani’s departure from Manchester United doing the rounds today, attention must turn to the search for a replacement and top of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s wish list is Borussia Dortmund’s Erling Haaland.
Solskjaer is a close family friend of the Haalands and came close to landing his services in January 2020 but United’s refusal to agree to a €75 million release clause in his contract meant that the Norwegian striker joined Dortmund instead.
However, that buy-out figure has come back to bite Dortmund in das Hinterteil as they now need to sell him this summer to get anything like market value for him, or wait until June 2022 and inevitably lose him at that price.
The Bundesliga side have clearly decided to adopt a bullish approach to the problem – as they did when negotiating with United over Jadon Sancho last summer – and have slapped on a massive asking price for clubs wanting to take him off their hands now.
ESPN claims that ‘Erling Haaland’s transfer fee this summer has been set by Borussia Dortmund, sources told ESPN, with interested clubs needing €180 [£155m] in order to land one of the most sought after players in world football.
‘Dortmund underlined their stance on their star names last summer when United attempted to negotiate a lower fee for England international Jadon Sancho.
‘The same hardline tactic is in place this summer for Haaland, sources told ESPN, in a move that is designed to warn Europe’s heavyweights off making a bid.’
Real Madrid, Barcelona, Manchester City, Chelsea are all competing with United in the chase for the 20-year-old’s signature, but it seems unlikely that any of them will pay £155 million now rather than wait one season and sign him for £65 million.
Whilst that £155m might be viewed as a starting position for negotiation, it does suggest that Dortmund would rather keep Haaland another year than let him go for, say, £20, £30 or even £40 million over the buyout fee.
On the other hand, BVB’s CEO Hans-Joachim Watzke recently admitted that the club’s financial position is not strong and that they would need to sell one of their crown jewels – Haaland or Sancho – this summer if they fail to qualify for the Champions League. That issue still hangs in the balance: Dortmund currently lie in fifth place in the Bundesliga, four points behind Eintracht Frankfurt with eight games left to play.
If they do fail to qualify, the Germans may finally have to stop posturing and come to the table with a more realistic asking price for either Sancho or Haaland, with United poised to swoop in both cases and therefore in a very strong negotiating position.