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Manchester United executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward and manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer have both agreed to put their pursuit of Borussia Dortmund frontman Erling Haaland on hold for least a year, with Tottenham’s Harry Kane emerging as a potential alternative target.
United are eyeing several high-profile additions to Solskjaer’s first-team squad in the upcoming summer transfer window.
Among those heavily linked include Dortmund wide-man Jadon Sancho, his team-mate Haaland, Spurs’ Kane and Real Madrid centre-half Raphael Varane.
Haaland was previously thought to be the very top target for the summer but German giants Dortmund are determined not to lose the 20-year-old.
Despite a difficult Bundesliga season in which they have lost 10 of 33 games, they are guaranteed Champions League football for next season, when Marco Rose will take over, and won the DFB Pokal earlier this month.
Dortmund are demanding at least £130million for Haaland in spite of the fact the Norway international can leave for as little as £64m in a year’s time thanks to a release clause.
Haaland is also interesting Manchester City, Chelsea, Barcelona and Real Madrid but it is likely any deal will have to wait until next year.
That is because on top of such a huge transfer fee, Haaland and his team are also said to be demanding gigantic £500,000-a-week wages.
The Athletic say United have re-evaluated their interest in the striker despite him being their principal option for the summer at the start of 2021.
Outgoing chief Woodward and Solskjaer are said to have sat down to discuss Haaland with the Norwegian coach told a reunion with his countryman would be too expensive this summer.
Mutually, it is claimed they came to a pact to put their interest in the centre-forward on hold because they did not want a lengthy and unrewarding transfer saga.
Solskjaer has repeatedly spoken highly of Haaland in public having coached the former Red Bull Salzburg striker at Molde.
The United boss said in February: “I keep in touch with Erling. It’s great to see him become the player he has become and [how] he works to improve all the time.
“He’s a Dortmund player – we just wish him well there and let’s see what life will bring later on.
“You know I can’t speak about Erling because he’s at Borussia Dortmund, and it’s disrespectful to talk too much about it, apart from that I know him and I speak to him.
“Who wasn’t interested in him a year ago? Everybody would say you would take the best players in the world and Erling is a top player.”
Despite pausing their interest in Haaland, United could abandon their pursuit altogether if they follow up with their interest in England captain Kane.
The 27-year-old, who has 22 goals and 13 assists in the Premier League this season, wants to quit the north London club this summer to join a team more immediately capable of competing for major silverware.
In response to links, Solskjaer said on Friday: “We’re planning as we normally do. It’s not like it’s the end of the season and ‘let’s see what we do’.
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“That’s an ongoing process – players who might stay, players who might be leaving, and I hope we’re going to strengthen with two or three players, because we definitely need to challenge higher up in the table, we’re still too far behind to be honest.”
While Ian McGarry said on Reach PLC’s Transfer Window Podcast that United would be willing to pay Kane almost double his Spurs wages, although they distanced themselves from paying a big salary to Haaland.
“He has not yet requested a transfer in a formal sense,” McGarry said of Kane.
“It is our information that Manchester United have made it clear to Harry Kane that should he need to push the transfer, i.e. ask for a transfer in an official sense, which would disbar his entitlement to a pay-off on his current contract, which is around £6m net per year until 2024 meaning he would lose out on £18m of salary if he asked for a transfer.
“United are prepared to compensate him for that loss of earnings in a signing-on fee which could be paid over the length of his contract and obviously he would expect and will be offered around twice his current deal at Tottenham.
“Not only would he be earning more but he would get some compensation fee for the wages he gives up should he need to force his way out of Tottenham.
“That could be a very powerful way of doing things for Kane because he’s risked a lot making it public, with regards to his desire to leave Spurs.”
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