Manchester United were the favourites to sign Erling Haaland when he left RB Salzburg at the end of 2019, only to miss out on his signature, instead joining Borussia Dortmund
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Borussia Dortmund chief-executive officer Hand-Joachim Watzke has confirmed that Manchester United missed out on the chance to sign Erling Haaland.
The Norwegian was already one of the most exciting talents in European football when he decided he would be leaving RB Salzburg at the end of 2019. Having coached the forward during his time at Molde, then United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was hopeful of a reunion. It is believed Solskjaer went as far as flying out to Austria to meet Erling and his father Alfie, but the Red Devils were unsuccessful with Dortmund winning the race, completing an £18million deal.
And it’s a what if that will continue to haunt United, with Haaland now firmly established as one of the most feared attacking players in world football. During his two-and-a-half years in German football, Haaland has scored 82 goals in 86 matches and is set to bank Dortmund a significant profit.
It now appears a foregone conclusion that the 21-year-old will make his next move at the end of the season, with United’s near-neighbours Manchester City the favourites to trigger his £63m release clause.
And it was the inclusion of that clause – and United’s unwillingness to do so – which meant Haaland played at Dortmund rather than Old Trafford, Watzke has confirmed to 19:09 talk: “We gave Erling Haaland a release clause… otherwise he would have gone to Manchester United.
Watzke has also all-but confirmed their star asset will leave the club this summer, with plans already in place to find his replacement. “He has a decision to make, it will come eventually. But I’m sure we’ll find the new Haaland. We need the new Haaland.”
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United were linked with a move for Haaland this time around, but their current malaise – destined to miss out on the Champions League – means they were never really in contention. Nevertheless, interim boss Ralf Rangnick, who will take on a consultancy role at the end of the season, believes he is a perfect example of the type of player United will need to try and land moving forward.
He explained: “Haaland is a young player, he is 21 or 22, this is one of those players I spoke about. But, on the other hand, he has developed into one of the most expensive strikers in the world. He could be one of those examples where I think the focus should be on to try and identify and find and then convince players who could be Manchester United players for the next couple of years.
“It is obvious the club and the team need more players, for the very reason that quite a few players have no contracts anymore and some other players are not available anymore, some players might want to get more game-time and are on loan already. It is obvious the club needs quite a few new players.
“I already told you how I see that. For me, it’s important the club identifies scouts and then recruits those kinds of players to develop Manchester United into one of the top teams again and therefore, you need mentality, quality, physicality, pace, skills, you need the full package.”