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Erling Haaland: are Man City signing the ‘next best player in the world’?

City have reached an agreement in principle for the Borussia Dortmund goal machine

The Premier League campaign isn’t yet over, but Manchester City have already started their planning for next season by announcing an “agreement in principle” with Borussia Dortmund for the transfer of Erling Haaland. 

In a statement released on Tuesday, City confirmed that a deal had been reached for the 21-year-old to join on 1 July, which remains “subject to the club finalising terms with the player”.

Haaland passed a medical this week and the deal ends Pep Guardiola’s search for a “long-term successor” to City’s record goalscorer Sergio Agüero, said Will Unwin in The Guardian. The striker’s €60m (£51.5m) buyout clause has been met and it’s understood that he will earn £375,000 a week, plus bonuses. 

A ‘homecoming’ for Haaland Junior 

This is a “homecoming of sorts” for the Norwegian, said Chris Wright on ESPN. Alf-Inge Haaland, the player’s father and now agent, played for City between 2000 and 2003. 

It’s certainly a “fantastic story” for Haaland Junior, who has “obviously grown up with a real affection” for the club, said Ben Ransom on Sky Sports News. “I’m sure everyone has seen the photos of him as a kid in a Man City shirt.” 

Haaland was born in Leeds in the summer his dad joined City from Leeds United, The Daily Telegraph reported. He has attended “several games down the years” and he told City that he wanted to join them for “emotional and football reasons only”.

‘Goal machine’

After making his professional debut in 2017 as a 15-year-old for hometown club Bryne in Norway, Haaland has since played for Molde, Red Bull Salzburg and Dortmund. 

He scored 27 goals in 29 games for Austrian side Salzburg, including a hat-trick on his European debut, and this put him “on the radar” of Dortmund, who signed him for €20m in December 2019, said AFP. In Germany the “goal machine and record breaker” has scored 85 times in 88 matches and is the youngest player to chalk up 50 Bundesliga goals, reaching the milestone in just 50 matches. 

At international level he has also excelled, scoring 15 goals in 17 appearances for Norway. These staggering numbers have made him the world’s “most-wanted centre-forward”, said Wright on ESPN. And his move to City will be “the next phase of his meteoric career”. 

Erling Haaland is set to line up alongside Phil Foden in Man City’s attack next season

Erling Haaland is set to line up alongside Phil Foden in Man City’s attack next season

Matt McNulty/Getty Images

‘A galactico signing’

Established as one of Europe’s “most ruthless goalscorers”, Haaland is 6ft 4in with broad shoulders and can “overpower centre-backs with his strength, outrun them with his speed and outwit them with his skills”, said Adam Bate on Sky Sports. Turning 22 in July, “he might be the next best player in the world”.

For the City players, “this will feel like a galactico signing”, said former Scotland midfielder Don Hutchison on BBC Radio 5 Live’s Football Daily podcast. “It is amazing that Haaland is coming to the Premier League.”

For City’s rivals though, the signing of Haaland may not be such an amazing prospect. The “worried reaction” by Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp “speaks volumes”, said Jake Polden in the Daily Mirror. Klopp, whose side are currently level on points with City at the top of the Premier League table, said Haaland is a “real beast” and “unfortunately, he’s a really good signing”.

Can he help City finally win the Champions League? 

In April last year – at 20 years and 231 days old – Haaland became the fastest and youngest player to reach 20 Champions League goals. Since making his Champions League debut in 2019 for Red Bull Salzburg, Haaland has netted 23 times in the competition and it’s “a record bettered only by Robert Lewandowski and Karim Benzema”, said Giacomo Pisa in The Sun

Spaniard Guardiola has won ten trophies with City since his appointment in 2016. He is, however, still without a Champions League win with the Etihad club. Will Haaland be the man to finally deliver the Champions League title for Man City, Pisa asked. “Well if his stats in the competition are anything to go by, you wouldn’t bet against Guardiola’s side lifting the trophy in Istanbul in 12 months time.”

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