THE negotiations around Erling Braut Haaland resemble those before the marriage of a prince in years gone by.
Monarchs depended on the knowledge of ambassadors and the bargaining power of favourite relations for securing a bride with a huge dowry, lands, a title of her own and, with luck, beauty.
These negotiators travelled far and wide and were often well rewarded.
Should this remind readers of agent Mino Raiola and Alf-Inge Haaland, it is no coincidence — the couple have been on a tour of Europe inspecting possible match-ups for young Erling.
The fee for the 20-year-old blond giant and serial goalscorer is said to be £100-£150million — a sum only affordable to the wealthier aristocracy among clubs.
The two envoys have so far talked to hard-up Barcelona and Real Madrid and include the two Manchester clubs and Chelsea among their targets.
Erling may have liked to join Leeds, where he was born and where his father played for three years, but I don’t think they are in the running.
And, make no mistake about it, money is the critical factor.
Daddy Haaland and his Italian mate are looking for, it is reported, £25m each in agent fees.
Should this or the transfer fee prove beyond the reach of clubs, then Erling will remain at Borussia Dortmund for a season more.
Dortmund spotted a big earner by astute operation in the teen market.
They spent quite a lot but must be thinking of a possible £300m profit from the eventual sales of England players Jadon Sancho and Jude Bellingham, still only 17, plus Erling, who qualifies for the Three Lions but chose Norway.
The idea of a public tour to sell a lad’s services bothers me. Such avarice spoils the game’s image.
Players can be tempted by strong agent representation and the ability to prise every last pound from clubs. Not all, mind you.
City’s Kevin De Bruyne has just emerged with a contract to 2025 and a substantial pay rise. And he conducted his own business. Bravo to him.
Erling’s almost ten years younger and, it has to be said, his representatives have vast experience.
Never mind that Raiola is ruthless and argumentative, his 100-strong roster shows that he is appreciated by players. I just wish that agents were under control.
Alf Haaland spent ten years here. He’s best known for his feud with Roy Keane, not an unusual state of affairs with the Irishman.
Haaland put him out of football for a year during a Leeds-Man United match and, being Keane, he set about his revenge when they met next in a City-United derby.
Keane was fined £150,000 and banned for eight matches for later admitting his red-card tackle was a deliberate act.
Haaland was forced to retire and later said: “I really dislike United and I can’t stand their players.”
Not exactly perfect grounds to start a negotiation — yet Ole Gunnar Solskjaer managed Molde when Erling played there and dad may wish to change his mind.
Raiola has also said: “I don’t give a f*** if I never do another player with Manchester United.”
However, I think £25m each could persuade them otherwise and, anyway, United are a great club and shouldn’t be ruled out.