Manchester United chiefs are set for talks with Erling Haaland’s agent and father on Friday – and they will be desparate to offer the most attractive proposal possible.
Mino Raiola and Alf-Inge Haaland were in Spain for discussions with Real Madrid and Barcelona representatives on Thursday and are also due to speak to Liverpool before the weekend.
This is a clear indication of how sought-after Borrusia Dortmund ace Haaland is, with Manchester City and Chelsea among other suitors believed to be preparing summer bids.
As he faces a crucial decision over his next move, Haaland could be influenced by the minor details presented by each of his admirers.
Among these are the shirt numbers available to him – and this could be a problem at United.
Haaland favours the No.9 shirt and switched from No.17 to claim it at Dortmund this season. Unfortunately, both of those numbers are occupied in the Red Devils dressing room, by Anthony Martial and Fred respectively.
The No.23 shirt he wears on international duty with Norway is also taken by Luke Shaw.
But which numbers could be available to Haaland if he joins United this summer? And which would he prefer?
Mirror Football takes a look.
Manchester United’s most famous shirt could be up for grabs this summer.
The No.7 jersey is currently occupied by Edinson Cavani but there are widespread doubts over his future at Old Trafford, with the Uruguayan reportedly keen on a move to Boca Juniors this summer.
Previously donned by Cristiano Ronaldo, David Beckham, Eric Cantona, Bryan Robson and George Best, the shirt’s pedigree means it is befitting of Haaland’s precocious ability.
Would you like to see Erling Haaland handed Manchester United’s No.7 shirt? Have your say in the comments.
This would be a surprising choice of shirt for a forward, but the No.8 jersey may be Haaland’s best hope of wearing a first-XI number.
Juan Mata has possessed the shirt since joining from Chelsea in 2014, although he – like Cavani – is out of contract this summer.
Old Trafford chiefs have the option to extend both players’ deals for another year, but appear more keen to activate this clause for Cavani than Mata, with the latter starting just eight games this season.
Haaland could decide to take the No.8 shirt before moving to a conventional forward’s number, just as Wayne Rooney did in his early years with the Red Devils.
The vacant No.30 shirt would be a no-hassle option for Haaland – and he has history with the number.
Instead of relying on either Cavani or Mata leaving Old Trafford, the Norwegian could claim the number he wore while an emerging talent at Molde and RB Salzburg.
Matteo Darmian was the last player to don the No.30 jersey for United, although young goalkeeper Nathan Bishop has been assigned this shirt for his handful of appearances on the bench this season.
The other option
If Haaland has his heart set on the No.9 shirt, Manchester United may well give it to him.
This would mean stripping Martial of his preferred jersey – and the Red Devils did just that when they signed Zlatan Ibrahimovic in 2016.
Martial only recovered the No.9 shirt in 2019 and would be loath to give it up again, but the Frenchman has only managed seven goals in 36 appearances this season.
With a precedent set, Old Trafford chiefs may decide to hand Haaland the number he wants if they pull off the marquee signing.
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