It looks as though Erling Haaland has landed himself in the classic ‘two dates to the prom’ scenario.
Except, instead of two dates, he’s got six. And instead of a prom, it’s a summer battle royale between a set of heavyweight European football clubs, all prepared to spark the most extravagant of bidding wars for the Borussia Dortmund wonderkid.
At 20 years of age, there may never be a better time to sign Haaland than this summer. He’s got the world at his feet, and in an era where elite goalscorers are hard to come by, another like Haaland may not come along for quite a while.
Obviously, you must have rocks in your head if you’re not interested in signing Haaland, and so nearly every giant is batting their eyelids at the forward ahead of a summer transfer war. However, he will ultimately have the final say, and it appears as if he’s narrowed his choices down to six.
So who are the clubs he’s interested in joining, and which would be the best option for him? 90min ranks the six clubs (including a seventh we’ve thrown in ourselves) on which is the perfect match for Haaland this summer.
Pros: Chelsea really, really want Haaland, and even if he’s not convinced, they’ll be raring to prove to him just what an attractive club they can be. Prepare to be wooed Erling, because the Blues will go all out to drag you to Stamford Bridge.
Cons: The Blues have spent a lot of money on expensive stars in recent windows, but it hasn’t really worked. Also, sustainable success isn’t in their nature. It’s more of a ‘win a title, finish 7th the next season,’ kind of vibe.
Stylistic fit: Clearly, Haaland himself doesn’t see Chelsea as a serious destination, and their inability to find a system to suit fellow Bundesliga graduates Kai Havertz and Timo Werner may have something to do with his reluctance.
Haaland happiness – 1/10: Technically, Chelsea should be a more prosperous and fruitful home than some of the other names on this list, but the Norwegian striker just doesn’t view them as a realistic option.
Pros: The weather is gorgeous in Barcelona – nice beaches for Haaland to roam, and he can fill his Instagram feed with pictures of sunsets and great food, all with sangria in hand. How good does that sound?
Cons: Barcelona is on fire. Not in the ‘they’re killing it’ sense, but in the ‘the club is burning to the ground and all their staff have petrol coursing through their veins’ sense of the word.
More specifically, the ex-president was recently arrested for hiring a company to attack their own players’ images, unspeakable levels of debt are mounting, and their star player is the most miserable man on earth.
Stylistic fit: Who knows what Barça’s style is. Ronald Koeman has continued the theme of aesthetically pleasing when it suits, but as firm as a trifle when the going gets slightly troublesome.
Haaland happiness – 3/10: A decade ago, this would have been a no-brainer. Now Barcelona are a must-avoid for any player wanting to guarantee his own immediate and long-term success.
Pros: Haaland could fulfil the lifelong dream of any footballer by playing alongside the great Cristiano Ronaldo.
Cons: He’d have to play alongside the ghost of Cristiano Ronaldo, pushing him around in his wheelchair while the Portuguese star reminds him how many Ballon d’Or trophies he’s won.
Stylistic fit: Juventus are in the middle of a transitional period, and Haaland should be wary over tying his future to a club which is led by inexperienced coach Andrea Pirlo. He wants guaranteed success, not to be man tasked with single-handedly inspiring it.
Haaland happiness – 5/10: Much like Barça, Juve were a much more appetising prospect a few years ago. He may fancy taking the risk of leading a revolution, but it’ll be a wasted few years of his career if he can’t restore them to their former glories.
Pros: Haaland would enjoy the luxury of playing under Jurgen Klopp at a club which creates atmospheres similar to the one he enjoys at Dortmund. He can also create some memorable Anfield moments in the Champions League.
Cons: He’ll have to learn how to handle a scrap if he’s going to steal the headlines and the glory away from the typical trio. In-house competition is strong.
Stylistic fit: What striker wouldn’t thrive in Klopp’s attacking system, surrounded by the likes of the brilliant, if a touch selfish Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane? Goals galore.
Haaland happiness – 6/10: On paper, it’s not a bad move for Haaland, and he’d probably enjoy lots of success on Merseyside. The issues come off the field however, given Liverpool’s lack of money and their desire to pinch the pennies rather than splash them.
Is he too good to miss out on, however?
Pros: He knows Ole Gunnar Solskjaer from their time together at Molde in Norway, meaning he understands how the manager works and how much success he is likely to bring.
Cons: The aforementioned pro could also be a massive con, depending on what your opinion of Solskjaer is.
Stylistic fit: Solskjaer’s inability to get the best out of Romelu Lukaku, now one of the top five strikers in the world, must be a concern for any forward contemplating a move to Old Trafford. He would be working under one of the best finishers of his time, though.
Haaland happiness – 7/10: This could be a ‘Bruno Fernandes success’ signing, or equally it could turn out to be a Memphis Depay/Angel Di Maria/Lukaku etc kind of deal. Manchester United are building towards something special, but at the same time, they still have Phil Jones on their books. It’s a confusing place.
Pros: Real Madrid are the biggest club in world football, and the most iconic. The bright lights of Santiago Bernabeu and the glossy white jersey are often enough to persuade any footballer in the world to up sticks and move to the Spanish capital.
Cons: Even after winning the league title, Madrid seem to be limping along, sticking plasters over their visible and gaping wounds. Is Zidane really the right man to take them forward in the long term? Can they successfully make the transition from the old guard to the younger generation? Will Karim Benzema ever give up that striker’s role? A lot of questions.
Stylistic fit: Madrid are still on the lookout for the rightful heir to the ageing Benzema’s throne, and Haaland would expect to waltz straight into the side. Los Blancos can be a little stale in their play though, so don’t expect the chances to flow just because Haaland is in town.
Haaland happiness – 8/10: It’s probably every boy’s dream to lead the line for the great Madrid, and the mega money, combined with the stature of the club, is reason enough to make the move. Haaland could make Los Blancos the most feared team in Europe once more.
Pros: He gets to play under Pep Guardiola in the Premier League, and earn a brilliant salary at the club which his father once represented. It’s all a bit romantic. Manchester City are also the most in-form and terrifying team in Europe right now.
Cons: Manchester is extremely rainy. He may also get frustrated by facing the brick wall that is Scott Carson in training every day. His confidence could subsequently take a beating.
Stylistic fit: Guardiola has managed to build a team that doesn’t rely on even using a centre forward, but their productivity could multiply frighteningly with a Haaland figure at the top. See Sergio Aguero’s statistics for further evidence of a match made in heaven.
Haaland happiness 9/10: This is as close as it gets to perfection. Haaland can follow in his father’s footsteps, lead Man City to world domination, win 10 consecutive Ballon d’Ors and earn a shed load of cash while doing it. Just hand over the papers now.