Manchester United have already missed out on the chance to sign Erling Haaland and while there is a lingering hope that the Norwegian sensation will eventually land at Old Trafford, it is more likely that he will wear Manchester City colours.
Before moving to Borussia Dortmund in January 2020, after which he has put up staggering numbers, it was United that apparently had all the aces. They might as well have gotten a couple more last summer.
The relationship between Haaland and the fired Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has been well documented.
A former international teammate of his father Alf Inge, he was a vital mentor to Haaland Jnr during his progression to become one of Europe’s most popular properties. So much so that United were favorites to take over Haaland two years ago. Dortmund arrived and they missed the opportunity.
Although Solskjaer has been heavily criticized, especially during his final days on the bench at Old Trafford, that wasn’t in him. You can imagine that he went to great lengths and made multiple calls to Haaland’s residence to make this happen.
Solskjaer was ultimately disappointed by key figures in the boardroom there. Where have we heard that before?
Haaland showed immense courage and maturity in ignoring United the first time around, settling on Dortmund as a club renowned for helping elite talent take the next step. As this almighty fight prepares for your services, once again that decision has been justified.
Without a title since 2013, when Leeds-born Haaland was not yet 13, the 2020 Golden Boy has surpassed what United can offer him at this stage. Such is the drawing power that United will always have, however, that the history and vast position in the world pecking order will resurface. Perhaps not soon enough for Haaland.
A hefty salary and agent fees aside, his soon-to-activate £64m release clause means City – or one of those usual Spain suspects – will win the lottery this summer.
Meanwhile, if that were Real Madrid, the key figures at the Bernabeu could stumble upon double the riches as they are in the driving seat to sign French superstar Kylian Mbappe from PSG at the end of his contract as well.
United addressed their own surprising needs by luring five-time Ballon d’Or winner Cristiano Ronaldo back to where it all began on a global scale last summer.
It came as part of a three-way statement, but while the Portugal captain shows no signs of slowing down, such a change will only help in the short or, at best, medium term.
For whatever reason, United ignored the bigger picture in January 2020 when they missed out on Haaland.
Regardless of the initial complications over how a top attacker would operate alongside Ronaldo, it appears they have repeated that mistake this January window as well.
Dusan Vlahovic burst onto the scene by calling himself Serbia’s answer to Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
A bold statement that he, seeing it for the first time, can thankfully endorse.
Vlahovic celebrated his 22nd birthday by signing a move to Juventus rather than cut a piece of celebratory cake. Not on the same level as his Norwegian contemporary, the leader put together an eye-catching scoring resume at Fiorentina and heads to the Old Lady having scored 20 goals in 24 appearances this season.
Who should United sign next summer? Your opinion in the comments section.
Amid interest from Arsenal and debated suggestions that City were eyeing the player, Vlahovic represents a bargain for Juventus at £56m, raising the question of why United overlooked his credentials.
Perhaps they, after all, harbor a genuine hope that they can land Haaland the second time they ask?
Missing out on Dortmund a long time ago when he highlighted the short-term thinking of the United board and while he still has a lot to offer the Old Trafford giants, the same can be said about THAT move to bring Ronaldo home. Now it is, apparently, an unwanted hat-trick in that sense.
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George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.