There was a buzz on social media on Monday night as Tuesday’s back pages were revealed a few hours early. It was the reports that Manchester City fans have been waiting for – that Erling Haaland is on his way to Manchester City.
The Mail are reporting that City have agreed personal terms for Haaland on a £500,000-per-week, five-year deal, and will trigger his £63million release clause with Borussia Dortmund in the next fortnight. Manchester Evening News understands the interest is real and the response from City fans was of understandable excitement that the most promising, prolific striker in the world is likely to be wearing Sky Blue again next summer. This time, it wouldn’t be a replica kit.
Already, the counter reports are coming from Spain. Real Madrid have been City’s only real competition for Haaland as other elite clubs have taken it in turns to drop out of the running. So the media covering Real are keen to keep the race alive for as long as possible.
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City are in pole position for Haaland, and whether it’s next week, next month or later in the transfer window, expect them to be a key player in the race for the Norwegian. Dortmund said this week that no side has yet expressed interest in Haaland formally, so City would still have to go down that process and these things always take time.
However, if a move for Haaland is getting closer, it wouldn’t be a transfer that boosts them for next season. It could also this season give City a Champions League advantage.
With Real Madrid up next in the semi-finals, City will be hoping for any edge they can get over the Champions League experts. The Blues knocked Real down a peg in 2020 with their coming-of-age performance at the Bernabeu, followed by the delayed dominating win at the Etihad.
Real are arguably no stronger than they were two years ago, but their aging stars are showing their enduring class this season with Karim Benzema and Luka Modric pulling them through ties with Paris Saint-Germain and Chelsea so far. It will be a test of City’s relentless possession-based attack against some of the most experienced players ever to play this competition.
The build-up will again focus on the narrative of old elite vs new elite. City are still trying to break into the minds of the traditional top European clubs as genuine equals. A first Champions League trophy would help, and beating Real’s old guard on the way would also be a boost.
Another reminder that City are here to stay is if they were to beat Real to the signing of the most-wanted striker in Europe. Both sides can surely afford Haaland’s financial demands, so to persuade him that they offer a better sporting project would be a significant win for City.
If they were to deliver that hammer blow before or during the Champions League games, it would send a psychological reminder that City are now their equals – if not a step ahead in terms of their future prospects in the coming years. And that would be before Haaland even kicked a ball for City.
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