Ole Gunnar Solksjaer remains in the best position to know what Erling Haaland would bring to Manchester United and the Premier League.
After establishing himself as one of the hottest properties in European football, the Norway sensation – who has scored 49 goals in as many games for Borussia Dortmund – will be in high-demand this summer.
Speculation about his future continues to mount after his representatives, including super agent Mino Raiola, were spotted in Spain last week.
It’s not the first time the United manager has spoken about his compatriot, either, having aided his development at Molde, in addition to being linked with a move for his former charge before.
Here is our round-up of what Solskjaer has said about his ‘top transfer target’ this season.
‘United won’t go public’
Just over a year on from a failed attempt to lure Haaland to Old Trafford, the Norway star is once again top of the wish list for Solskjaer, whose succinct comment about his previous move to Dortmund in January 2020 offered an indication as to how disappointed he was not to get his man.
Speaking at the time, Solksjaer said: “Dortmund have signed a fantastic boy and I can’t answer more than that.”
Fast forward 15 months and Haaland’s next move is high on the agenda, with Barcelona and Real among the elite clubs ready to launch a heavy-handed approach.
United, though, are wanting to be a little more circumspect in their reported pursuit.
During his latest pre-match press conference, Solksjaer said: “Even though I worked with Erling it’s not right for me as Man United manager to talk about him. I can talk about being an ex-coach of his, but he will make his own mind up.
“I think the way the world works at the moment, you’d like to do all your business on the quiet and all your talks on the quiet, but there are platforms everywhere, there’s news, the media make that more difficult now.
“We conduct our recruitment, our scouting, and the players that we are interested in, we do it the right way I hope and feel. Who we’re interested in, who we can go for and who we will go for, I’m not going to comment on that.”
Haaland’s old-school mentality
Solksjaer and the Haaland family go way back.
Indeed, the United manager is a former international teammate of Erling’s father Alf Inge, while he also forged the pathway to senior football for Haaland Jnr.
Speaking to Sky Sports about the Dortmund striker earlier this month, Solskjaer recalled the time they had together at Molde, one of the most successful clubs in their native Norway.
He said: “He [Haaland Jnr] came as a 16-year-old. Of course, you never know with injuries, he struggled really badly with bad knees when he came. But I could see someone with a personality.
“I remember him brushing off and putting our centre-back and midfielders – two big, massive lads – he put them on the floor and asked them to get up. He’s a winner.
“He’s got a great personality. He’s proving to everyone how good a player he is. He’s a top personality. I played with [his father] Alf and he’s a bit old school in that respect. He’s a winner.”
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Still in contact with Haaland
Even in the modern world, where putting two and two together usually adds up to five when it comes to transfer rumours and speculation, there is no surprise in the ‘news’ that Solksjaer and Haaland remain in contact.
Indeed, they spent close to two years together at Molde, while as compatriots and strikers with a keen eye for goal, they have plenty in common, too.
“When you have had kids and players come through as a coach, you follow them and I keep in touch with Erling,” declared Solskjaer back in February. “It’s great to see him become the player he has become. I know he will work to improve all the time.
“He’s a Dortmund player and we just wish him well there and let’s see what life will bring later on.”
Speaking later in the same month, Solskjaer added: “I follow Erling. I have always said that.
“Was it 18 months we had together or something like that? Almost two years, perhaps. A fantastic time.
“He will surely have a super career both for Norway and his club. He is doing incredibly well for Dortmund and we will see where he ends up. As a Norwegian and someone who has worked with him, it’s great to see he’s doing so well.
“We are going to do what we can to become a better team and he will do what he can to become a better player. Where he ends up? I do not want to say anything else. I wish him all the best. What choice he makes is up to him.”