Manchester City appears to have won the race to sign striker Erling Haaland, with multiple published reports indicating that the 21-year-old Norwegian goal-scoring machine will be the latest addition to a star-studded roster that is on the cusp of winning its fourth Premier League title in five years.
In a transfer that had been rumored for weeks, City appears to have outbid (or outmaneuvered) potential suitors like Real Madrid and Bayern Munich for Haaland, one of the world’s most sought-after young goal-scoring talents.
City and its rivals were facing a June deadline to activate the release clause in Haaland’s Dortmund contract — said to be worth as much as 75 million euros, or just under $80 million. City is believed to have already agreed to contract terms with Haaland, whose new salary is expected to make him one of the dozen or so highest-paid players in the world.
Those figures are not an issue for City, which is bankrolled by the billionaire brother of the ruler of the United Arab Emirates and has spent hundreds of millions of dollars to assemble one of the world’s most-talented squads. But the numbers most likely put Haaland out of reach of other teams, including Barcelona, which is mired in a financial crisis that led it to lose Lionel Messi for free last summer, and Bayern Munich, whose sporting director said recently that adding Haaland “doesn’t make any sense” for the perennial German champions since the team already employs a world-class striker in Robert Lewandowski.
Closing the deal for Haaland this week will allow him to say farewell to Dortmund’s fans in the club’s final game of the season on Saturday, at home to Hertha Berlin.
City currently leads Liverpool in the Premier League title race by 3 points with three games remaining, but it entered the chase for Haaland with an eye on finally winning the Champions League. The trophy has been the goal of City’s leadership for more than a decade; the club finally reached the final for the first time last season, losing to its London rival Chelsea, and then returned to the semifinals this season before being eliminated stunningly by Real Madrid last week.
A prolific scorer who possesses a fearsome mix of size, speed and skill, Haaland, who turns 22 in July, has been ticketed for global stardom since his teens. The son of the former Premier League midfielder Alfie Haaland, Erling Haaland made his debut for his boyhood club, Norway’s Bryne FK, as a 15-year-old, and joined Molde a year later, signed by the former Manchester United star Ole Gunner Solskjaer, who was Molde’s manager at the time.
By 2018, he was at Red Bull Salzburg in Austria, where he scored 17 league goals in his only season and added eight more in his first five appearances in the Champions League. Dortmund scooped him up less than a year later, and he hit the ground running by scoring a hat trick in 23 minutes in his debut.
Haaland has 61 goals in 65 Bundesliga games for Dortmund, and 15 more in three Champions League campaigns.
Once the deal is completed, he would join Manchester City almost 22 years to the month after his father did the same. Alfie Haaland signed with City in June 2000, only weeks before Erling was born, but retired in 2003 after several injury-marred seasons in Manchester and one infamous foul at the hands of Manchester United’s Roy Keane.
Rory Smith contributed reporting.