If anyone still had doubts regarding Erling Haaland’s standing amongst football’s elite, they were answered on Wednesday night.
The prolific Norwegian put Sevilla to the sword with a magical double in Borussia Dortmund’s Champions League last-16 first leg.
A man for the big stage, the 20-year-old has netted 17 goals in just 13 appearances in Europe’s elite club competition.
After a hat-trick against Genk for Red Bull Salzburg and a stunning run in Austria, it was a goal at Anfield against Liverpool that made many sit up and take notice.
Haaland’s journey began under the watchful eye of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer at Molde and, at that time, it appeared the stage was set for the pair to be reunited at Manchester United.
Over the course of a hectic few weeks in which Haaland became a man in demand, it was Borussia Dortmund who won the race out of nowhere and snatched him from under Solskjaer’s nose.
There were public flirtations from both Solskjaer and Haaland as he came to prominence, reminiscing fondly of their time working together in Norway.
By October, after his Anfield goal and remarkable run, it was clear a transfer saga was brewing.
Haaland, however, had little interest, telling VG: “It’s boring. I’m bored now. On a scale of 1 to 10 [of how bored]? 9.9.”
Haaland and his father both touched on his Premier League dreams as he continued to bang in the goals in Salzburg.
In December, with the January transfer window fast approaching, the situation stepped up a notch.
It emerged father Alf-Inge Haaland had visited Carrington to look around United’s facilities before Erling himself was involved in visits to Borussia Dortmund and RB Leipzig.
Keen not to miss out, it was reported in Norway on December 14 that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer had flown to an Alpine village outside of Salzburg to meet the pair.
He was absent from a Manchester United’s training session for the visit.
Alf-Inge remained tight-lipped on the meet-up, telling VG: “I hope you understand that I can’t comment on all the rumors going on now.”
Three days later, Haaland was pictured signing a series of shirts, including current club RB Salzburg, former clubs Molde and Bryne as well as a Leeds shirt from his father's era.
Curiously, he was also snapped signing a Manchester United shirt.
At this stage, it seemed although he was revelling in the media circus – a point further fuelled on December 20 when a picture in the airport caused havoc.
Claims emerged in Norway that Haaland was ‘boarding a flight’ to head to Manchester.
Fans began tracking flights, believing they had identified the journey he was taking.
In response, his dad posted a photo on Twitter of the youngster at the airport staring at the departures board, captioned: “Have another guess”.
Less than 10 days later and before the January transfer window had officially opened, Dortmund announced out of the blue they had got their man.
After meeting his £17.1m buyout clause, they were chosen by the teenage striker, leaving United and others frustrated at missing out.
Dortmund chief executive Hans-Joachim Watzke said: "Despite many offers from absolute top clubs from all over Europe, Erling Haaland decided on the sporting task at BVB and the perspective that we have shown him.
"Our tenacity has paid off.”
United’s efforts did not prove successful with Solskjaer’s attempts to lure his fellow countryman in vain.
“It is clear that Erling is going to have a fantastic career," Solskjaer told VG last week. "I follow Erling. I have always said that. Was it 18 months we had together or something like that?
“Almost two years, perhaps. A fantastic time. He will surely have a super career both for Norway and his club. He is doing incredibly well for Dortmund.
“We will see where he ends up. As a Norwegian and someone who has worked with him, it is of course great that he is doing so well.”
Solskjaer remains proud of what Haaland has already achieved – but you can't help but feel it must be accompanied by a tinge of frustration that he could not lure him to Old Trafford when he had the chance.
Source: Read Full Article