Wednesday, May 11, 2022

Man City confirm agreement in principle to sign Erling Haaland from Borussia Dortmund for £51m

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City are still finalizing terms with Haaland, who passed a medical in Belgium on Monday, while Dortmund confirm the move is “close”.

The Norwegian’s release clause made him a tempting option for Europe’s biggest clubs I announced in March that City had come out on top after Haaland’s representatives researched which team best suited his style.

Manchester City have reached an agreement in principle to sign Erling Haaland from Borussia Dortmund in a £51m deal.

City have agreed to pay his £500,000-a-week wages as well as significant fees to his agents, but said in a statement on Tuesday that “the transfer is subject to the club’s final terms with the player”.

Assuming the deal is final, City will have beaten Real Madrid on the transfer, although Haaland initially preferred a move to Spain.

Haaland wants to win the Ballon D’Or and compete in the latter stages of the Champions League and the prospect of working under Pep Guardiola is said to excite him.

In addition, the striker wanted to make his move before Dortmund’s last Bundesliga game of the season on May 14 in the home game against Hertha in order to say goodbye to the fans.

The 21-year-old joined Dortmund in January 2020 and has scored 85 goals in 88 games, including 21 league goals this season.

Haaland passed a medical on Monday, while City’s announcement came just hours after City boss Guardiola was unwilling to deal with the transfer for legal reasons.

“Everyone knows the situation but I shouldn’t speak because I don’t like talking about the future and next season,” he said ahead of City’s game against Wolves on Wednesday. “We’ll have time to talk. Not because I don’t want it [to]but I can not.”

He added: “We will have new players in the squad, I think, and some players will move up from the academy to the first team next season.

“The new players always help us to be a stronger team, but a good defender will not solve our defensive problems and a striker will not solve our scoring problems that we might have.

“Since day one – maybe the first season wasn’t like that, especially at a stage early in the season when we started well and then after relegation – but we’ve always consistently scored a lot of goals and conceded few.

“The stats are there, we are stable in that regard, but the club must always have a vision for the future.

“That’s why I’m always very aware of the decisions that the club makes and 100 percent behind me.”

City’s top scorer this Premier League season is Raheem Sterling with 12 goals and the addition of a striker who can top 20 a season should only strengthen City’s pursuit of titles.

The goal split hasn’t hurt their league prospects with the title in their hands with three games to go, but after a string of missed chances in the Champions League semi-final defeat by Real Madrid there was a sense of world class -Player #9 could have put her over the line.

Haaland may only be 21 but he carries so much weight and that weight will be on the Norwegian’s shoulders as Guardiola seeks to win the Champions League with City on a seventh attempt next season.

However, Guardiola wanted to stress that a player does not equal a one-size-fits-all solution when asked about the transfer just hours before his confirmation.

“You know, the new players always help,” he said, “but not a single striker will solve our goal problems that we might have.”

Analysis by Daniel Storey, I‘s chief football writer

Players find different paths into the elite, from the street footballers fighting for an impossible dream, past the late developers and risers to those who fall and rise from super academies, but Haaland is almost unique. All of this had/is an unrelenting inevitability: the former pro dad, the super agent, the child star of track and handball and soccer, making the first team debut at 15, the goofy song releasing at 16 with nearly nine million was views on youtube. At 21, he is a sporting phenomenon.

And yes, the exceptional physical condition, even by the standards of the modern footballer, monastic in her preparation and dedication to her art and form. The jump, the pace, the height, the upper-body strength, the touch, the two-footedness — Haaland is a compilation of some of the best parts of every forward you can name like Dr. Frankenstein accepted a job in Rogaland on Norway’s west coast and was asked to create a forward who looked a little like the star of a Terminator origin story. It’s as if modern football was made for Haaland to knock it out and then grin at the destruction.

The stats are ridiculous enough to warrant a small expansion. Haaland has scored 169 goals in 218 career games. He has made just 19 Champions League appearances, none of them for serious tournament hopes, and yet he needs just six goals to move into the top 30 goalscorers of all time in European Cup history. This season with Dortmund has been difficult: three separate hip and muscle injuries in a team that failed in Europe. What does a comparative setback for Haaland look like? 21 league goals. No younger has managed more than 11 in the five major European leagues.

Haaland’s completeness creates an interesting conundrum for Guardiola, albeit firmly placed on the “nice problem to have” file. Guardiola exists to shape players: from winger to poacher (Raheem Sterling), central midfielder to goalscorer (Ilkay Gundogan), central defender or midfielder to full-back (various). Haaland has a consistency, a blunt immutability that is defined by his physique and his super talent – “If I can do it all, then why don’t you want me to do it all?”.

It can certainly lead to childhood illnesses. The new striker has to get used to the new club, new league, new manager and new style. Pep Guardiola must reform his attacking strategy. Haaland’s teammates have to adjust to a player who is almost the complete opposite of what has succeeded before him.

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