Erling Haaland looks sure to be coming home.
The future of the Norway striker, one of the rising stars of world soccer, is set to be finalized this week and the expectation is he will leave Borussia Dortmund to join Manchester City as the English club’s belated replacement for Sergio Aguero.
Neither City nor Dortmund are commenting officially about the potential transfer, though Pep Guardiola dropped a massive hint on Tuesday.
“Everybody knows the situation," the City manager said at a news conference ahead of the match against Wolverhampton in the Premier League on Wednesday, “but I should not talk because I don’t like to talk about the future. Dortmund and Man City have told me I can’t say anything until the deal is done.
“I would love to talk, but I can't.”
Others in the world of soccer are doing the talking for him, with even the manager of Liverpool — City’s big rival in the Premier League — weighing in on what could be the biggest transfer ahead of next season.
“This transfer will set new levels, let me say it like this,” Jurgen Klopp told British broadcaster Sky Sports.
It is being widely reported that the release clause of 75 million euros ($79 million) in Haaland’s contract with Dortmund will be activated this week. Haaland could then bid farewell to Dortmund’s fans at the team’s last game of the season, at home to Hertha Berlin on Saturday.
Sebastian Kehl, who is taking over as Dortmund sports director, told Sport1 on Sunday that there should be “clarity in the next week” about Haaland's future, though he didn't mention City specifically.
Belgian newspaper Nieuwsblad reported on Monday that Haaland completed his medical examination in Brussels.
The 21-year-old Haaland was born in England — in Leeds, which is a short drive from Manchester in the north of the country — while his father, Alf-Inge, was playing for City in the Premier League. As a kid, Erling Haaland was pictured wearing a City jersey.
“I wish he was coming back home here to Leeds — this is his birthplace — but I understand the decision for him to go to Man City,” said Leeds manager Jesse Marsch, an American who coached Haaland when they were at Austrian team Salzburg.
“Credit to them for getting that done,” Marsch added. “I always wish the best for Erling, he is an incredible human being.”
Along with Kylian Mbappe, Haaland is leading the new generation of stars ready to take over from Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo as soccer’s marquee players. He could be the headline signing that lifts City from being a regular winner of domestic trophies to the standout team in Europe. Pep Guardiola’s team has failed to win the Champions League despite heavy spending by the club’s Abu Dhabi ownership.
City has played without an out-and-out striker this season following the departure of Aguero, its record scorer, after 10 years at the end of the 2020-21 campaign. The team’s lack of a natural goal-scorer has shown in some big matches this season, notably when getting eliminated by Real Madrid in the Champions League semifinals last week.
City tried to sign Tottenham striker Harry Kane in the last offseason and, when that didn’t come off, contemplated bidding for Cristiano Ronaldo before the Portugal forward sealed a return to Manchester United.
Haaland, who has also been linked with a move to Madrid, has 85 goals in 88 games since joining from Salzburg in January 2020. At his best, he is almost unstoppable and his rivalry with Bayern Munich’s record-breaking goal-scorer, Robert Lewandowski, has lit up the Bundesliga over the last three seasons.
“It will be interesting,” Marsch said. "He is an explosive player in transition and Man City often plays a lot in possession.
“He can play any style of play but certainly I believe it makes Man City one of, if not the, best teams in the world even better.”