Red Bull Salzburg striker Erling Haaland is one of the hottest properties in football. Ahead of the January transfer window, Raphael Honigstein, Gabriele Marcotti and Dharmesh Sheth discuss where the 19-year-old could go next...
Earlier this month, there were scouts from 40 different European teams at the Red Bull Arena for Salzburg's Champions League clash with Liverpool and Sky Sports News understands that a large number of those scouts were there to watch Haaland.
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The Norwegian striking prodigy has been linked with a move to a number of top European clubs, including Manchester United, Borussia Dortmund, and has visited other teams in Germany this month, after scoring 28 goals in 22 games for the Austrian side this season.
But what will his next move be? Speaking on the Transfer Talk podcast, Honigstein, Marcotti and Sheth assess Haaland's options...
'Dortmund hopeful on Haaland deal'
German football expert Honigstein thinks Borussia Dortmund are at the head of the queue to sign Haaland, saying they have a vacancy in attack that no other club can offer the Norway international.
"My feeling is Haaland will end up at Borussia Dortmund," he said. "RB Leipzig have also been very closely connected to him because Red Bull Salzburg is very much part of the RB group that Leipzig belong to. It's the family of clubs run by Ralf Rangnick, who brought him from Molde to Salzburg in the first place.
"However, he's currently being advised by his father and some very smart people, who see that the next step up should be gradual rather than going from a Salzburg to a Manchester United, a Real Madrid or any club of that size. He's so young that he can still do that big move four or five years down the line when he's much more developed.
"Dortmund have a vacancy that no other club of that level can offer," he added. "At the moment they have Paco Alcacer, who's not really playing often enough because of injuries and he doesn't really lead the line like they want him to. So, he could go straight into a last-16 Champions League side, who have a chance of winning the Bundesliga title and I think, from everything I've heard from Germany, the feeling at Dortmund is that they've got a good chance of doing the deal.
"But, as we also know, his agent Mino Raiola is also involved. It's never straight forward shall we say when he gets involved. The encouragement Dortmund can take is that they managed to take Henrikh Mkhitaryan to the club when he was one of the most highly-rated players a few years before his ill-fated move to Manchester United, and they got him despite a lot of competition with Raiola being his agent.
"Obviously, they have a good working relationship and they hope they can get this over the line."
Are RB Leipzig not a better option than Dortmund?
ESPN senior football analyst Marcotti thinks so, but Dortmund feel they are slightly ahead in the race for Haaland's signature, according to Honigstein.
He said: "Raiola's links to Dortmund are well evident but equally, when you mention a Champions League last-16 club who can win the Bundesliga title, you are describing RB Leipzig, and surely he would be an upgrade over Yussuf Poulsen or Patrik Schick?
"Haaland with Tim Werner up front and Julien Nagelsmann at the wheel, that sounds really good to me. It sounds a lot better than Lucien Favre or whatever they are going to run into at Dortmund."
"Leipzig is a more complete package," Honigstein added. "It is more enticing as far as playing in a team that works is concerned, but I think what Dortmund have is a bit of the magic factor. When you have played for Salzburg and you have dominated the Austrian league, I think the next step up maybe you want to play in front of 80,000 people at one of the biggest clubs in Germany rather than Leipzig, who still have that project vibe.
"They have fans, they have a big stadium and they have in Nagelsmann one of the outstanding managers, but Dortmund will try to play on the emotional pull, and of course the manager is a big discussion. That's where they have an issue because there's no guarantee Favre will stay at Dortmund. I'm sure Dortmund want him to stay but they are still looking around for someone to succeed him, so if you are Leipzig you make all these points to Haaland, and it might be enough, but Dortmund feel as if they are slightly ahead at this point."
What about Manchester United, are they in the race?
Over to Sky Sports News reporter Dharmesh Sheth...
"We know that United were one of a number of clubs who had representatives watching Haaland in the Champions League when they lost to Liverpool last week.
"RB Leipzig are very interested, while Dortmund could be his next destination. He is a wanted man but the one thing that might go in Manchester United's favour is that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer knows the player very well. He had him at Molde and knows what he can do so there must be some sort of personal relationship between the two of them."
Do United actually need him?
Marcotti doesn't think so, suggesting United have other pressing issues which need addressing.
"Obviously if you are United, you want to be in the market for every young player and Haaland is extremely promising, but I would have thought United might have other priorities that are more pressing right now," he said.
"It is something you have to look at because you have to look at every tremendous young player who comes onto the market, but attack is a department where United are currently strong with Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial and Mason Greenwood. You would think it's less of a priority than other areas of the pitch.
"I was one of the people that said they would need another striker when Romelu Lukaku left but what you need is a big veteran striker who can come off the bench in certain situations to give you a differing option, while you wait for Greenwood to develop.
"But I don't think they need another young striker who has to get used to the Premier League. He's done fantastically well at Salzburg playing a certain way in a certain league, but he's obviously a longer-term project."
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Could a 'stepping stone' move could be the answer?
Finally, Marcotti questioned whether Haaland needs to make the move to a huge club next, saying he needs more time to develop after dominating the Austrian league with Salzburg.
He said: "From his perspective, a stepping stone makes sense or if he goes to a big club, a club which is settled where he can be eased into it, like the situation of Phil Foden.
"That's a good situation for a guy to develop. Unfortunately, United are not a big club on top of their game and challenging for the title or the Champions League where he can come in and ease his way into the side.
"For that reason, an intermediate step makes sense. Remember too, you are playing for a club that dominates the Austrian league. You are playing for a manager that presses all over the pitch in Jesse Marsch and they play at a million miles an hour. They've got the ball all the time and he's got little guys running around and feeding him the ball.
"At United, it's not going to be like that. It's going to be completely different, so a transition makes sense for me, but at the right price and on the right terms of course you sign him if you are Manchester United. There's no question about it.
"But equally, if it's going to be super expensive and you have to pay Mino Raiola commission then you think twice about it and say maybe we should put our resources somewhere else."
Sky Bet odds...
Who will sign Haaland before February 2020?
- Manchester United: 5/6
- RB Leipzig: 5/2
- Borussia Dortmund: 4/1
- Juventus: 22/1
- Barcelona: 25/1
- Manchester City: 25/q
- Real Madrid: 25/1
- Liverpool: 33/1
Have your say...
How to follow the January transfer window
Sky Sports will bring you the very latest news from the January transfer market with the return of three shows.
Start your day with Good Morning Transfers at 9am as our team of reporters bring you the latest news and insight. Transfer Talk then follows at midday delivering analysis of the biggest stories. Then join us at 7pm for the definitive round-up of the day's news with The Transfer Show.
Meanwhile, the Transfer Talk podcast will also be back at the turn of the year with more expert analysis from here and across the continent.
And as well as tuning into Sky Sports News, don't miss a thing with our dedicated Transfer Centre blog.