Borussia Dortmund chief Hans-Joachim Watzke has revealed how close Erling Haaland was to signing for Manchester United in January 2020.
The Norwegian striker was impressing at Red Bull Salzburg and then-United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer believed he’d wrapped up a deal for a player he knew well from Molde.
But reports at the time suggested that United executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward pulled out of the deal because of Mino Raiola’s agent fee and a reluctance to insert a release clause in Haaland’s contract.
That allowed Watzke and Dortmund to swoop just before the January 2020 transfer window and snatch the prolific striker from beneath United’s noses.
To make matters worse, Haaland could now be on his way to Manchester City this summer.
Watzke has now confirmed the rumours from the time, telling 19:09 Talk: ‘We gave Erling Haaland a release clause… otherwise he would have gone to Manchester United.’
Haaland’s release clause is believed to be around £63million and, after scoring 82 goals in 86 appearances during two-and-a-half seasons with Dortmund, the 21-year-old is now set to move.
Though Dortmund only paid £18m for Haaland back in January 2020 and stand to make a healthy profit, £63m still seems like a steal for one of the world’s best strikers.
Having failed in their efforts to sign Haaland, United ended up taking Odion Ighalo on loan from Chinese club Shanghai Shenhua at the tail end of the January window.
They finished third in the Premier League at the end of that campaign but have been in decline ever since and may not even qualify for Europe this time around.
As Sportsmail revealed earlier this month, City have agreed terms over a £500,000-a-week deal to sign Haaland, making him the highest-paid player in the Premier League. He will come to the Etihad Stadium on a five-year contract.
In a strong hint that Haaland’s departure is imminent, Watzke said: ‘He has a decision to make, it will come eventually. But I’m sure we’ll find the new Haaland. We need the new Haaland.’