Erling Haaland is poised to become a Manchester City player this week after passing a medical and the Premier League champions telling Borussia Dortmund they will activate the 21-year-old’s €75m (£64m) release clause.
The deal is expected to be announced imminently by the German club, Haaland having 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 basic salary of around £350,000 a week with considerable bonuses and is poised to sign a five-year contract.
For the Manchester City manager, Pep Guardiola, the deal ends his search for a long-term successor to the club-record goalscorer, Sergio Agüero. Guardiola began the quest for a replacement to the Argentinian last summer when he departed for Barcelona. At the time the No 1 target was Tottenham’s Harry Kane but City were priced out of any prospective deal by Daniel Levy, the north London club’s chairman, who valued Kane at £150m.
Guardiola’s desire to also acquire Jack Grealish, who cost a British-record £100m when he joined from Aston Villa last summer, made the transfer of Kane impossible. This season Guardiola turned his focus to Haaland. The City manager admires the Norwegian, who has scored 85 goals in 88 appearances for Dortmund, but wanted to make sure he had the ability to suit 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 prime summer target, it cleared the way for City to firm up their interest in Haaland after Guardiola gave the move the green light.
This season City have played the majority of their matches with a “false No 9”. This has usually been of one of Kevin De Bruyne, Raheem Sterling, Phil Foden or Bernardo Silva with Gabriel Jesus also operating in the position occasionally. City have scored 89 Premier League goals this season, the highest in the division, with three games remaining yet in crucial matches they have missed numerous chances, the first Champions League semi-final first leg against Real Madrid being a prime example. City won 4-3 on the night but lost the return 3-1 to be knocked out 6-5 on aggregate.
Haaland is a proven scorer, scoring 134 goals in 182 career appearances with 36 assists. There has been a concern that his huge physical frame – Haaland is 6ft 4in – could cause injuries and he missed 26 games for Dortmund between November 2020 and January 2022. However, he already has 181 senior games at the age of 21 and City are confident he 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 Manchester United midfielder. The 29-year-old is available on a free transfer if he leaves United in the close season as is expected.
Pogba is believed to be flattered by City’s interest but Guardiola and the City sporting director, Txiki Begeristain, believe his preference is to sign for another club. Real Madrid and PSG are among those that retain an interest in Pogba.
Guardiola’s interest in Pogba has caused surprise in some quarters as he has often underwhelmed in his six years at United. Yet as Fernandinho will leave City when the his contract expires at the end of June, the manager is intent on reinforcing his midfield department.