Transfer Market Chris Winterburn gives his opinion
Erling Haaland‘s emergence as one of the premier goalscorers in all of football has been a joy to behold, although the lack of competition Borussia Dortmund faced for his signature one year ago is puzzling, with the only conclusion being that his affiliation with Mino Raiola put teams off.
Real Madrid and Florentino Perez have often looked to avoid negotiations with the Dutch-Italian agent in the past, although they look like softening that stance with the potential of Haaland being on the market in the summer.
Now, whilst Raiola is a figure who splits opinion and can appear incredibly self-serving and problematic, it seems that that clubs which don’t want to deal with him are either scared of or don’t want sporting success.
A specific point of reference to this is the market for Haaland in 2020 and 2021, with Barcelona and Real Madrid desperately interested in the Norwegian striker now, but they weren’t when he was set to leave Red Bull Salzburg.
Manchester United have needed a centre-forward since Romelu Lukaku left, and even the Belgian wasn’t the answer during his time at the club, yet Haaland was available and available at a reasonable price.
Seldom do Norwegian players reach the talent level of Haaland, and Manchester United appeared to hold all the aces in the months leading up to Haaland‘s arrival in Dortmund.
They had a Norwegian coach in Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, who had also worked with Haaland at Molde and had a great relationship with the youngster and finally, perhaps most importantly, he was available at a cheap price for his talent.
Just 20 million euros for Erling Haaland looks like the deal of the century, given his market value is now sky rocketing towards the 100 million barrier.
Manchester United, amongst other clubs, constantly bemoan the lack of value in the transfer market, but here you had a generational goalscorer on the market for what would have translated to 17.1 million pounds, only slightly more than they had paid for Daniel James from Swansea City.
Yet, United and no other clubs made concrete offers, with speculation of Raiola insisting on a buyout clause in Haaland‘s contract being a dealbreaker for United.
So why is this? Perhaps United feel that they are too big for buyout clauses and don’t want to run the risk of their star player leaving in a couple of years, especially after their experience of dealing with Raiola and Paul Pogba.
This, though, is a fallacy, because Raiola only ever acts on the wishes and demands of his clients. There is a misconception about him that he goes around ranting and raving in search of provoking transfers for his clients to ensure he gets an almighty payoff from it.
That isn’t the case. He simply works incredibly hard, often ranting and raving when one of his players tells him they want a specific move.
So why would clubs be so scared of Haaland having a buyout clause? Surely he won’t want to leave if the team he is playing for are winning trophies and constantly strengthening their squad to remain at the top.
Bingo. The last sentence is your answer. Keeping your squad strong costs money, money which Manchester United and others simply don’t want to spend.
These clubs don’t want the sustained success that requires parting with their precious bottom line, but then they see Haaland and Raiola wanting to protect themselves against being stuck in a dead-end situation as some form of moral effrontery.
Raiola may be unpleasant to deal with on a personal level, I don’t know, but that’s life. Do you really think Borussia Dortmund were worried about the Dutch-Italian agent as Haaland scored two goals inside the opening seven minutes against Bayern Munich?
Teams that don’t wish to work with Raiola sit on an excuse of the super-agent being a difficult personality, but the reality is that they know he and his client will push them to always improve and strengthen, something most clubs are afraid of, because of the cost.