Erling Haaland left his mark on potential suitors Manchester City despite the sought-after striker being on the losing side in Tuesday’s Champions League quarter-final.
The 20-year-old created the equaliser for Marco Reus which cancelled out Kevin de Bruyne’s opener, giving Dortmund an away goal which could still prove crucial despite Phil Foden’s late winner at the Etihad.
And Owen Hargreaves, who was on punditry duty for the game, outlined just why this summer’s expected transfer battle for Haaland is still so difficult to predict.
Haaland’s future is set to be one of the most fascinating talking points of this summer’s transfer window, with the striker having been linked with Manchester United, Chelsea, Real Madrid and Barcelona as well as Pep Guardiola’s City.
Various reasons have been given as to why any of those teams could be favourites to land the Norway star – including his previous working relationship with United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, the fact his dad Alf-Inge is a former City star, and the lure of playing alongside Lionel Messi at Barcelona.
But figuring out who is leading the race is still impossible, according to Hargreaves, who described Haaland as a “generational” talent destined to join one of Europe’s top clubs.
“Well he’s at a great club already,” Hargreaves said on BT Sport. “But the problem is with how well he’s playing, he deserves to be at an even bigger club.
“Whether it’s Barcelona, whether it’s Real Madrid, whether it’s City, whether it’s Chelsea, I think everyone is going to want him.”
Hargreaves said the first obvious problem is Haaland’s transfer fee, with Dortmund expected to demand in excess of £100million for a player who has scored 49 goals in 51 games since switching from Red Bull Salzburg in January last year.
“The question is, can they afford him?” said Hargreaves. “For the teams that can, if you’re Barca you don’t want him to go to Real, so the teams will probably end up having to take out a loan.
“Because this guy is generational, you don’t want to lose him. If he goes to another team, you can guarantee with better service he’s going to score more goals.
“It’s almost like he’s been created to score goals. He’s grown physically, technically, his instincts are incredible for a 20-year-old.
“Wherever he goes that’s a special, special player. A generational one. Him and Mbappe – okay, they’re not at the Ronaldo-Messi level but they’re next in line.
“He’s performing in a way which I haven’t seen from someone in a long time.”
Hargreaves said Haaland won’t base his decision simply on which club will pay the biggest wages, with his career history to date showing he targets clubs which represent the right move for him at the time.
“I think for him now, he’s fortunate that he’s in a position where he’s going to pick the right spot,” said Hargreaves, who played for both United and City as well as Bayern Munich.
“It’s not about money, it’s about working out the goal. He went to Molde because they had the best academy, Salzburg he wanted to take the next step, Dortmund.
“This isn’t going to be about money, it’s going to be about, ‘what’s the best step for me in my development’.”
Asked what would be the best move for Haaland, Hargreaves said: “I think if he goes to Barcelona, Messi stays. That’s how important he is.”
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