Haaland’s future hangs in balance as $124m decision looms ‘in the next few weeks’
Erling Haaland is one of the hottest properties in European football and his Bundesliga club Borussia Dortmund are eager to learn if they will lose their star striker in 2022.
The 21-year-old has scored a phenomenal 76 goals in 75 games for Dortmund since his arrival from Red Bull Salzburg in January 2020.
A release clause in his Dortmund contract, valid until 2024, could allow Haaland to leave in 2022 and club CEO Hans-Joachim Watzke wants to know what the player’s agent Mino Raiola has planned.
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“We will talk in the next few weeks,” Watzke said in early December, “and we will all make sure that we don’t wait until March or April to know the decision.”
In March of this year, Haaland became the fastest player to reach the milestone of 20 Champions League goals in a record 14 games.
By comparison, Cristiano Ronaldo needed 56 Champions League games to reach the same goal tally. Lionel Messi took 40 matches.
At the same age as Haaland (21 years, six months), Ronaldo – the Champions League’s all-time topscorer with 140 goals – had yet to score in Europe.
Haaland has a contract at Dortmund until 2024, but a release clause, reportedly for around 80 million euros ($90 million) becomes active next year.
Haaland’s agent Mino Raiola fuelled speculation recently by claiming there is “a strong chance Erling will leave Dortmund, maybe this summer, maybe next summer”.
“He can – and wants – to take the next step,” Raiola added, listing Bayern Munich, Real Madrid, Barcelona and Manchester City as possibilities.
“When he signed for Dortmund, we all knew that this next step would come.”
Barcelona president Joan Laporta has already met Raiola, while Bayern president Herbert Hainer said before Christmas that they were out of the running.
“I only know for sure that Real Madrid are very interested in him,” Watzke revealed recently, adding that he “could also name 25 other clubs.” Dortmund have brushed off the constant speculation.
“We are used to it, sometimes more, sometimes less,” Dortmund coach Marco Rose said of the speculation. “We take it as it is.”
With Haaland sidelined by a hip injury, Dortmund were eliminated from the Champions League and the team plays with more confidence and purpose when he is on the pitch.
However, Haaland cut a frustrated figure when Dortmund crashed to a 3-2 defeat at Hertha Berlin before the winter break which leaves them trailing Bayern by nine points in the Bundesliga table.
Dortmund have already signed a back-up striker in Dutch forward Donyell Malen, who is finding form after a slow start since joining from PSV Eindhoven.
At 1.94 metres, Haaland often towers over defenders and has been demolishing goal records since leaving Norway as an 18-year-old to join Salzburg in 2019.
The Norwegian scored a hat-trick on his Champions League debut to inspire a 6-2 thrashing of Genk as he chalked up eight goals in the 2019/20 group stages.
After netting 29 goals in 27 games for Salzburg, Dortmund paid 20 million euros for him.
The then 19-year-old immediately showed a return on the investment by becoming the first player in Bundesliga history to score a hat-trick as a replacement on his debut in January 2020.
“That’s the reason you bought me,” Haaland replied after Dortmund sports director Michael Zorc congratulated him.
Haaland has since scored 53 goals in 54 Bundesliga games for Dortmund. His Champions League record is now 23 goals in 20 games for Dortmund and Salzburg combined.
His warrior-like body language and work ethic has earned his teammates respect. “He’s a machine,” said Dortmund winger Julian Brandt.
He has proved he can provide goals as well as finish them, with nine assists this season.
Yet one of the brightest talents on the planet will not play at the 2022 World Cup.
Norway’s defeat to the Netherlands in late October saw the Scandinavians miss out on qualifying for the Qatar 2022 finals – when Haaland was sidelined by injury.