Reports linking clubs like Juventus and Manchester United with Erling Haaland didn’t emerge overnight. Not at least after he scored nine goals against the Honduras Under-20s side in the recent FIFA Under-20s World Cup. Not after his hat-trick against Genk and UEFA Champions League too.
Corriere dello Sport (via Calciomercato) have already stated that Juve wanted Haaland during his Molde days, but the player rejected the move. The Manchester Evening News had reported last year that United were scouting the Norwegian at his former club.
Fast forward to today, Haaland has become the most wanted youngster in football. He has scored 22 times in just 15 games. Goals against Napoli and Liverpool have done no harm at all too.
But about a year after being close to signing Haaland for €4 million, they seem keen on signing him for around €60 million next summer. That isn’t ideal for any club, but it could be worth it. Not just for Juve, but clubs like Napoli and United too.
The news isn’t strange at all, from a Juve perspective. With Mario Mandzukic yet to make a single appearance this season, they have Cristiano Ronaldo and Gonzalo Higuain as their strikers. While Paulo Dybala can also be considered a striker, he has been used behind two strikers in a 4-3-1-2 shape.
Higuain himself was linked with a move to Roma this past summer. While he has proved many wrong by scoring thrice in all competitions already, Higuain isn’t getting any younger. He is 31 and not as quick as he used to be.
Ronaldo is 34 and has approached the twilight years of his career. There’s no doubting his natural fitness and ability but the average age screams out for a younger addition in that area.
Haaland is 19 and hails Zlatan Ibrahimovic as his role model. In an interview with TV2, he said:
“For me, Zlatan is the biggest (inspiration). He is from Scandinavia, so someone has to take over from him. There is something about the way he got good and the way he plays.”
Not just that, but an interview that he gave to the media after his hat-trick against Genk gives vibes that are similar to Zlatan’s.
Haaland has earned rave reviews for his strength, pace and intelligence in making runs. During his time at Molde, he was often referred to as ‘Manchild’ because of the mismatch in his size and age. That is a terrifying combination and that is why he such a menacing goalscorer.
Despite being huge physically, Haaland is a raw talent who does everything. He can hold up the ball, run with it and he can score goals at will, because of that. His fighting spirit is similar to that of former Juve man Zlatan himself – something Ronaldo would love.
Of course, Maurizio Sarri’s system is tactically complex. Not every player can understand it in a jiffy. A teenager like Haaland will take his time. Playing at a huge club in a top-five European league- it always takes time to bed in. More so for a young player.
But at 19, he will be eager to learn. The playing style at RB Salzburg focuses on possession and attacking freedom– something Sarri loves too. If Haaland can thrive in that system under Jesse Marsch at Salzburg, he can do the same under Sarri at Juve.
It is still a long shout, but Juve have shown that they are willing to sign the best talents in the game. The signing of Matthijs de Ligt shows that. The fact that Mino Raiola will broker Haaland’s deal means that Juve could have an advantage over other clubs.
De Ligt is Raiola’s client. Paul Pogba, the former Juve man, is a Raiola client too. Raiola also represented Juve vice-president Pavel Nedved during the Czech’s playing days. Blaise Matuidi and Luca Pellegrini are also Raiola clients. Former Juve striker Moise Kean is also one of Kean’s clients.
All signs point to the fact that Juve will come in for Haaland. It will not be a huge surprise if they end up signing him too.