Erling Haaland has scored 39 goals in 41 games for Borussia Dortmund; Man Utd manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer coached Haaland during his time in charge of Molde; Solskjaer: "It's quite certain Erling will have a fantastic career and I have always said that. I follow Erling closely."
Saturday 13 February 2021 19:08, UK
Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer says he is following Erling Haaland's progress and believes the Borussia Dortmund striker will have a "fantastic" career.
Haaland has developed into one of the world's most prolific forwards having scored 39 goals in 41 appearances for Dortmund since joining from Red Bull Salzburg at the end of 2019.
Solskjaer, who coached Haaland during his time in charge of Norwegian club Molde, reportedly met with the 20-year-old before his move to Germany after United head scout Marcel Bout had watched him play against Liverpool in the Champions League last season.
Sky Sports News understood United had met Haaland's €20m release clause at the time but could not agree on the conditions for the transfer, with the stumbling block believed to be the value of the requested buy-out option if the Norway international moved to Old Trafford.
Asked if their previous relationship could help United compete for his signature, Solskjaer told Norwegian newspaper VG: "It's quite certain Erling will have a fantastic career and I have always said that. I follow Erling closely. Was it 18 months we spent together or thereabouts? Almost two years maybe. It was a fantastic time.
"He will definitely have a super career both for Norway and for his club. He's doing incredibly well for Dortmund, so we have to see where he ends up. As a Norwegian and someone who has worked with him, of course it's great to see he is doing so well."
Haaland is under contract at Dortmund until 2024 but has a reported €75m (£66m) release clause, which comes into effect in the summer of 2022.
A host of Europe's top clubs have been linked with a move for Haaland, including United's Premier League rivals Chelsea and Manchester City, as well as La Liga giants Real Madrid and Barcelona.
Solskjaer added: "We will do our best to become a better team, and he will do his best to be a better player, but where will he end up? I do not want to say anything apart from wishing him all the best. The choice he makes is up to him."
Haaland started his career at his hometown club Bryne in 2016 before signing for Molde as a 16-year-old the following year.
Under Solskjaer, Haaland scored four goals in 20 appearances during his first season but finished the 2018 campaign as the club's top scorer with 16 in all competitions.
He scored four times against unbeaten league leaders Brann within the first 21 minutes in July 2018, and Solskjaer believes a conversation the pair had the day before that game was an important moment in their relationship.
"I guess Erling remembers when we sat at Lubbenes (Molde's training ground) the day before the match against Brann. I felt that was an important day for Molde, him and our relationship.
"He had a very bad period before that. He probably remembers it himself. It is really enjoyable to follow him. He will have a long, long, long career that will exceed most of what any Norwegian footballers have experienced."
After Manchester United lost more ground in the Premier League title race last weekend, Sky Sports News reporter James Cooper assesses how the Old Trafford club's summer transfer policy could hold the key to a sustained assault next season.
Cooper joined the Pitch to Post Review Podcast for a special Regional Review on all things Manchester United, where last Saturday's dramatic late draw with Everton and summer transfer strategy were among a number of topics discussed...
"Edinson Cavani has given Manchester United a really nice problem. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has said the Uruguayan is doing enough to secure another deal at Old Trafford, and I don't think United would let Cavani go in light of the form he is showing. People questioned whether he had the legs for the challenge but [he] has, and he can do things other strikers can't.
"We have talked about Cavani being a mentor to Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial but one thing that hasn't been mentioned is the renaissance of Mason Greenwood. He has had his problems in his second full season at Manchester United, but I think Cavani has had a role in guiding him back to where he and Manchester United want him to be.
"So, with Cavani staying for another year, that gives Manchester United a get-out because, with the best will in the world, this summer window is not going to be the one everyone wished for because the economic situation is even worse than it was last summer.
"There are two components crucial to what Manchester United do. One, whether Paul Pogba goes, and they can free up some cash and wages, and two, how Amad Diallo settles in. He's played two great games for the U23s, if he comes in and plays for Manchester United and fills that right-wing role as an 18-year-old, with potentially a whole career at Old Trafford ahead of him, it could change what they look at in the summer.
"Right now I think they are looking for a centre-back and perhaps the second position on the list would be a right-back, to give Aaron Wan-Bissaka the sort of competition Alex Telles has given Luke Shaw at left-back.
"I don't really see the demand for a front line, down the middle striker because Cavani is there, and I don't know if the economics will allow them to do that and bring a centre-back and right-back in. The dynamics are really interesting, I don't think that's a priority right now and the same applies to Jadon Sancho, with the ship potentially having sailed."