Manchester United’s dream of signing Borussia Dortmund striker Erling Haaland has taken both a knock and a boost in the last few days as one major competitor was confirmed to be in the race, while another was ruled out.
As reported here yesterday, Dortmund have confirmed that the player will not leave the club in January but admitted that the race is hotting up for the summer.
A €75 million release clause is widely reported to become active at the end of the season.
Having missed out to the Bundesliga side in the last race for Haaland’s signature, United have maintained an interest but are believed to be up against all the biggest clubs in the world, making it even more difficult this time around.
But the good news is one of the favourites, Bayern Munich, have already ruled themselves out of the race.
Bayern’s president, Herbert Hainer, has said that they would not pursue Haaland ‘because we have the world’s best striker in Robert Lewandowski.
‘I’m convinced that Lewandowski can still play at the same level for years and I would be happy if he ended his career here’ he told Sport 1.
Reporter: Bayern will not sign Haaland because?
Hainer: "Because we have the world's best striker in Robert Lewandowski. I'm convinced that Lewandowski can still play at the same level for years and I would be happy if he ended his career here."
— Bayern & Germany (@iMiaSanMia) December 19, 2021
The news will be music to United’s ears, although Dortmund’s chief executive, Hans-Joachim Watzke, threw cold water over the celebrations just hours later by confirming that Real Madrid, arguably the odds-on favourite to capture Haaland, are very much in the race.
‘The only thing I know for sure is that Real Madrid is very interested in him,’ Watzke told Bild (via AS.com).
‘Now I could name another 25. But I know that for a fact.’
It has been widely reported that Madrid is the Norwegian’s preferred destination.
However, whilst not as dire as those of FC Barcelona, Real’s finances might not be sufficient to meet the demands of Haaland’s agent, Mino Raiola, who is looking for a salary of around €1 million per week for his player and a massive commission for himself.
Real’s pursuit of Kylian Mbappe will take priority for them.
This could leave Manchester City and Chelsea as the two biggest challengers this summer, although the Citizens may also renew their efforts to sign Harry Kane from Spurs and the Blues, having bought Romelu Lukaku last summer, are being linked with others such as Dusan Vlahovic and Lautaro Martinez.
Of course, as both Watzke and former pizza chef Raiola have both admitted, Haaland may opt to stay a year longer in Germany and ‘wait’ for the likes of Barcelona and Madrid to get their financial mojo back.
But as things stand, United’s position to challenge for the world’s most coveted signature is looking stronger than ever.