Ole Gunnar Solskjaer could be Manchester United’s biggest asset in the club’s pursuit of Erling Haaland.
Manchester United have courted Haaland previously, of course, before the striker moved to Borussia Dortmund from Red Bull Salzburg. The role of Mino Raiola complicates United’s interest but Solskjaer’s personal relationship with Haaland could be a leveller.
“Ole Gunnar has been very important for me in getting to where I am today,” Haaland told Viasport after joining Borussia Dortmund in January 2020.
“But we concluded that Dortmund was the best option for me. That was what I felt best about and therefore it became Dortmund.”
Raiola has since admitted he may have underestimated Haaland’s powers. The move to Dortmund was certainly seen as a less-risky stepping stone before moving his client to one of Europe’s elite powerhouses.
Manchester United will hope Solskjaer‘s influence can ensure his final destination is Old Trafford. Already, the United boss has imparted his wisdom on the fellow Norwegian forward.
“I arrived at Molde as a young kid, and he [Solskaer] helped me a lot,” Haaland told FourFourTwo in March 2020.
“He was a good finisher and helped me with striking skills and different finishing methods. He’s been important in my career.”
“Yeah, when I came to Molde as a 16-year-old boy, he taught me a lot of things from day one, as you said, he was my coach then and he taught me a lot of things,” Haaland told ESPN in April 2020.
“He was a striker, I’m a striker and he has won the Champions League and that’s also a dream for me, so he’s been teaching me a lot of finishing skills and small movements in the box and these kind of things.”
Haaland is and has been Solskaer’s prodigy, whether he eventually dons the red of Manchester United or not. He’s taken a keen interest from the start and that level of loyalty can only benefit United in their pursuit of his signature.
“The boy has had a great start to his career,” Solskjaer said in December 2020.
“It was really good to work with him, to see the potential in him and some part of me feels proud of having a little bit of input into such a rise.
”I’m sure Erling will score loads of goals in the Champions League.”
Of course, convincing Haaland and Raiola that his future lies at Old Trafford is only part of the puzzle. Borussia Dortmund remain adamant that they do not want to sell the striker this summer.
With no release clause, any fee could edge towards €150million and United’s negotiating power could depend on whether Dortmund qualify for the Champions League, which is looking increasingly less likely.
The Bundesliga club’s CEO, Hans-Joachim Watzke reiterated that stance on Monday: “We will talk to Haaland. We want him to be happy to stay at BVB next year. There is no alternative plan.”
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Raiola and Haaland know that his talents must be seen on the biggest European stage and that doesn’t include Europa League football.
Should the opportunity arise for a summer transfer, United will be weighing heavily on Solskjaer as their biggest bargaining tool.