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Man Utd manager confirms Haaland interest, faces ‘serious’ competition from Chelsea

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Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer spoke to Norwegian outlet VG at length, and part of the conversation turned towards Erling Haaland and the time the two spent together at Molde.

Solksjaer said: “Erling will have a fantastic career. I’m following Erling. I’ve always said that.

“Was it 18 months we had together or something? Almost two years, maybe. A wonderful time. He will definitely have a great career for both Norway and his club.

“He is doing incredibly well for Dortmund, so we’ll see where he ends up. As a Norwegian and someone who has worked with him, it is of course fun that he does so well.

“We will do what we can to become a better team, then he will do what he can to become a better player. Where does he end up? I do not want to say anything other than that, that I wish him all the best. Which choice he makes may be up to him.”

Man Utd’s interest in Haaland is well-documented – the club tried to sign the player before he moved from RB Salzburg to Borussia Dortmund.

Two key reasons for the failed transfer mentioned at the time were playing time guarantees and a mandatory release clause to be added to his contract.

United refused, Dortmund agreed, and the rest is history. Haaland’s performances at Dortmund – both in the Bundesliga and in the Champions League – have earned him plaudits and further intensified rumours of a big-money transfer in the next couple of years.

While Haaland’s contract at Dortmund runs until 2024, he has a reported €75 million release clause that will activate in the summer of 2022 – meaning that if Dortmund were not to sell the player for more than €75m in 2021, they would stand to lose him for that fee the year after.

And as we have seen with Dayot Upamecano’s transfer to Bayern Munich – once the release clause is in place, there’s nothing the selling team can do but find a replacement.

Are Chelsea favourites for Haaland?

The Athletic reports that Chelsea are interested in signing Haaland this summer, although they will face competition from a number of top European sides.

Under Thomas Tuchel, Chelsea have gone through a mini-renaissance and there seems a belief at the club that they are a couple of major signings away from title contention.

Haaland will offer goals and a focal point that Chelsea’s expensively assembled creative midfield can play around.

Short of signing Harry Kane from Tottenham, Haaland may be Chelsea’s best bet to bring in a proven goalscorer who can thrive in the Premier League.

Dortmund are struggling this season, sixth in the Bundesliga, facing a financial crisis and potentially out of the Champions League if things do not improve for them.

They already seem committed to losing Jadon Sancho this summer, and it will be interesting to see if they are willing to lose two key players in the same transfer window.

Real Madrid and Paris Saint-Germain have also been linked with Haaland, but seemingly as a second-choice, with everything depending on whether Kylian Mbappe stays at PSG or whether Madrid can woo him to Santiago Bernabeu.

Regardless of that interest, if Dortmund can manage to qualify for the Champions League, they would have no reason to sell Haaland.

His presence will be a minimum in their attempt to maintain Champions League football the season after, and the resulting revenues will dwarf whatever losses they make in selling the player in 2022 instead of 2021.

And with United also interested in Sancho (and vice-versa), it will be interesting to see whether United can break the bank to sign two attacking players for close to £200m when they also need to invest in other areas of the squad.

All things considered, it’s unlikely Haaland will move this summer – unless of course, Chelsea come in with an offer Dortmund can’t refuse. In the current COVID climate, even Roman Abramovich will not want to spend that much money.