Every top club in the world wants to sign the prolific young striker Erling Haaland from Borussia Dortmund next summer.
And despite his agent, former pizza chef Mino Raiola, snubbing Manchester United not once, but twice, with his childish refusal to name them as contenders, the truth is that they are one of probably only four or five clubs that can afford to pay the massive fees involved.
Whilst there is a rumoured flat €75 million (£64m) buyout fee that becomes active in June, reports claim that Raiola is demanding €40 million (£34m) as his own agent fee and player wages of around €1 million (£850,000) or more per week.
TRUE ✅ Mino Raiola demanded a wages of €50m/year for Erling Håland from @ChelseaFC this Summer, in addition to agents fees of €40m
— Christian Falk (@cfbayern) August 25, 2021
It seems highly unlikely that the Manchester United board would be prepared to meet those demands, or anything close to them.
Real Madrid are also keen on the player, but their financial circumstances and pursuit of Kylian Mbappe could also rule them out of the race.
With Chelsea having invested in Romelu Lukaku, the last man standing for Haaland could well be Manchester City and the thought of the Citizens adding such a potent weapon to their already dominant squad is frightening for United fans. That is, of course, if they do not rekindle their interest in Spurs’ Harry Kane.
However, there is another player who might not be as well-publicised in the British press, but who could be just as good, if not better, than Haaland. Fiorentina’s Dusan Vlahovic.
The Mail points out that ‘The Serbia international has scored 30 goals in 40 Serie A games this calendar year, 13 of which have come in 16 games this season.
‘That is a superior goalscoring record for the Tuscany outfit than Gabriel Batistuta and Luca Toni, but his statistics in Serie A history are even more stunning. His 30th goal of 2021 against Bologna on Sunday saw him equal both Gonzalo Higuain and Hernan Crespo’s tally of Serie A goals in a calendar year.
‘More interestingly, he needs just three more to catch up with Ronaldo, who netted 33 for Juventus in 2020, and become the third-most prolific striker in Italian top-flight history in a single calendar year.’
Yesterday, he scored two of those three. And with three more games to play in 2021, against Benevento, Sassuolo and Verona, overtaking Ronaldo’s record is very much a possibility.
Many would argue that Vlahovic’s goalscoring accomplishments are more impressive than those of Haaland because Serie A is a much tougher league than the Bundesliga.
The 21-year-old is valued at £70 million but will not be subject to the huge agent fees and salary demands as Haaland.
A January transfer would appear possible. Transfer guru Fabrizio Romano quotes Fiorentina president Rocco Commisso as saying ‘Clubs should open talks with us – not with his agents’ and claims that the price tag for January is ‘not less than €70m [£60m].’
Dušan Vlahović again and again. He scored today a brace in Fiorentina-Salernitana – it’s 32 goals in 41 Serie A games in 2021. ✨🇷🇸 #Vlahovic
Fiorentina president Commisso said: “Clubs should open talks with us – not with his agents”. Price tag for January: not less than €70m. pic.twitter.com/8YKSGhFXqj
— Fabrizio Romano (@FabrizioRomano) December 11, 2021
Juventus had made Vlahovic their number one priority but may have already conceded defeat in the race, with vice president Pavel Nedved admitting ‘Vlahovic? We have to concentrate on improving the players we already have.’
The Old Lady are also said to be looking at United stars Anthony Martial and Edinson Cavani as alternatives as they face the fact that they are not in a strong enough financial position to sign the Serbian.
Arsenal have reportedly already made attempts to sign him and City boss Pep Guardiola is reported to be a huge admirer, but if Haaland goes to the blue side of Manchester, the red side will open up for the Serbian.
And whilst the Gunners are still believed to be ‘in pole position’ according to Tuttosport, with Liverpool also in the race, United are reported to have scouted Vlahovic extensively in recent months and must have been impressed with what they have seen.
Dubbed ‘the new Ibrahimovic’, Vlahovic may well prove to be United’s better option as their next striker and given the furore around his current form, it may even be that the club is forced to make a move for him in January to stop the likes of Arsenal and Liverpool beating them to the chase.