Erling Haaland is set to become a Manchester City player this week after passing a medical and the Premier League champions have told Borussia Dortmund they will activate the 21-year-old’s release clause – believed to be at significantly less €75m (£64m).
The deal is expected to be announced soon by the German club as Haaland informed them of his wish to leave after two and a half years in Germany. Personal terms between the player and City have been agreed. Haaland will earn a base salary of around £350,000 a week with considerable bonuses and is set to sign a five-year contract.
For Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola, the deal ends his search for a long-term successor to the club’s top scorer, Sergio Aguero. Guardiola started the search for a replacement for the Argentine last summer when he left for Barcelona. At the time, the No.1 target was Tottenham’s Harry Kane, but City were ruled out of any potential deal by Daniel Levy, the north London club’s chairman, who valued Kane at £150million.
Guardiola’s desire to also acquire Jack Grealish, who cost City a British record £100million when he joined Aston Villa last summer, made Kane’s transfer impossible. This season, Guardiola has focused on Haaland. The City manager admires the Norwegian, who scored 85 goals in 88 appearances for Dortmund, but wanted to ensure he had the ability to adapt to City’s fluid passing style.
When Real Madrid – who had been Haaland’s first-choice destination – decided to make Paris Saint-Germain’s Kylian Mbappé their main summer target, it paved the way for City to solidify their interest in Haaland after Guardiola had given the green light.
This season, City have played the majority of their matches with a “false No.9”. It was usually one of Kevin De Bruyne, Raheem Sterling, Phil Foden or Bernardo Silva, with Gabriel Jesus also occupying the position occasionally. City have scored 89 Premier League goals this season, the highest in the division, with three games remaining but in crucial games they missed numerous chances, the first Champions League semi-final first leg against Real Madrid being a prime example. City won 4-3 on the evening but lost the return 3-1 to be eliminated 6-5 on aggregate.
Haaland is a proven goalscorer: 134 goals in 182 career appearances with 36 assists. It was feared his huge physique – Haaland is 6ft 4in – could lead to injury and he missed 26 games for Dortmund between November 2020 and January 2022. However, he already has 181 senior appearances at the age of 21 and City is confident. it will be a success.
One player who is unlikely to join City is Paul Pogba. The Frenchman shares the same agency as Haaland and City have explored the possibility of signing the midfielder from Manchester United. The 29-year-old is available on a free transfer if he leaves United at the end of the season as planned.
Pogba is thought to be flattered by City’s interest, but Guardiola and City sporting director Txiki Begiristain believe his preference is to sign for another club. Real Madrid and PSG are among those who retain an interest in Pogba.
Guardiola’s interest in Pogba came as a surprise to some as he was often disappointed during his six years at United. Still, as Fernandinho will leave City when his contract expires at the end of June, the manager intends to strengthen his midfield department.