Manchester United’s pursuit of Erling Haaland might have taken a fresh twist with the news that the striker’s much-trumpeted £68m (€75M) release clause could be little more than a gentleman’s agreement.
The 21-year-old generated a fresh wave of intrigue about his future by appearing to wave goodbye to supporters after a home game against Greuther Fürth this week.
And, according to Spanish outlet AS, Borussia Dortmund intend to ‘summon’ their star man to a meeting to thrash out his future ambitions.
It’s claimed that a recent meeting between Dortmund officials and Haaland’s agent, Mino Raiola, failed to clear up the sense of confusion over the player’s plans.
However, the German club is said to be keen to keep the young hotshot for another year, despite having a verbal agreement in place with Raiola to sanction a sale in summer 2022.
In fact, they’re so determined to keep their crown jewel that they’re even said to be offering him £12m (€14m) net to stay in the Bundesliga for one more season.
AS believes that this belated salvage operation could play directly into the hands of circling Spanish giants Real Madrid.
With Karim Benzema still at the top of his game, the stage would then be set for Haaland to replace the ageing French star in the summer of 2023.
Should the Norwegian demand a move in 2022, AS expects that Real’s positive relationship with Dortmund would still put them in pole position to seal an early swoop.
To further complicate matters, PSG are also linked with the attacking powerhouse. As are European heavyweights Barcelona, Manchester City and United.
Aside from rubbishing talk of a contractual agreement, the story also declares that previous rumours of a set transfer fee of around £68m (€75M) are also wide of the mark.
At the centre of this web of intrigue sits Raiola, the agent provocateur who stands to make an incredible payday – whatever the outcome.
Would United want to launch themselves into yet another death waltz with the notorious former pizza chef? Might they be best served side-stepping Raiola-the-ringmaster’s latest circus?
Haaland is undoubtedly one of football’s hottest properties but the eye-watering sums involved – and Maddening Mino – might just make ‘Operation Erling’ one to avoid.