How Haaland Counselors Worked the System on Man City Road

A few days before the summer transfer window came to an end, a few senior Manchester City officials gathered in the conference room at the club’s main campus to determine what had gone wrong with what had gone wrong, for the previous couple. months.

Although City, the Premier League champions, managed to persuade Aston Villa to release Jack Grealish, a poor player who emerged as England star during the European Championship – making him the most expensive player in English history in the process – failed. to get his other top target, Tottenham striker Harry Kane.

What was always difficult, a strong movement had descended, instead, into a dispute over who to blame. Kane, at one point, refused to train with Tottenham, the club he had supported as a child, in hopes of forcing Spurs’ hand, but his outburst failed. Tottenham claimed City had failed to submit an offer that could be part of the start of negotiations.

That afternoon, City executives pondered their strategy, pondered why the agreement had not been fulfilled and figured out how to proceed. When the meeting ended with his colleagues standing to leave, Khaldoon al-Mubarak, the club’s chairman, made a final comment. It reached only two words, intentions and instructions. “Erling Haaland,” he said.

More than nine months later, that goal has been reached. On Tuesday afternoon, City confirmed they had reached a “fundamental agreement” with current Haaland club, Borussia Dortmund of Germany, to acquire the striker, one of the two most coveted strikers in world football this summer – the top scorer of 85 goals this season. huu. 88 Dortmund matches, and taken along with Kylian Mbappé as one of the twin players who held the standards for the first time after Messi, the generation after Ronaldo.

In fact, it had not taken nine months to reach an agreement of any kind with Dortmund. The Haaland deal had a buy-in clause, somewhere in the $ 75 million area, which left Dortmund speechless about where he could play next season. All City, all that anyone, had to do was inform Dortmund of its intention to pay for it. Haaland’s employer was not in a position to cheat.

Further controversy was the process of convincing Haaland that City was the next proper step in his carefully planned career. Haaland, 21, may have an emotional connection with the club: His father, Alfie, played for City earlier this century, and although his son does not remember his time in Manchester, he told the Times in 2019 that some love for all his former teams.

But, as City would have known, there has been little room for love in Erling Haaland’s unchanging growth. Every step of his journey has been painstakingly crafted – probably stupid – accurately with his twin: his longtime representative, Mino Raiola, a Dutch-Italian split agent who died last month; and his father.

When Haaland left Norway as a teenager, he rejected the arrival of English and German teams following him and favored Red Bull Salzburg of Austria, home to a reliable line of talented production for the major European leagues and match expectations in the Champions League. . When he left Salzburg, it was not for England but for Dortmund, a club with a record of developing and selling players with the intention of setting a satisfactory buy-out clause.

That meant, of course, that not only did Haaland not have a proven recession – $ 75 million is, by modern standards, a good value for a player who seems to be designed and designed to score as many goals as possible – but that, when the auction is inevitable started, the bar would not be who would pay Dortmund more, but who would put together the most interesting package for the player and his advisers.

To ensure the best results, Raiola and Alfie Haaland traveled to major European clubs, arousing enthusiasm and lighting fires. There were visits to Real Madrid and Barcelona. There were eyelashes flown in the vague direction of Chelsea and Manchester United. There was even, for a while, flirtation with Bayern Munich.

That, of course, was their job. That is exactly what Raiola was paid to do. He did so with remarkable efficiency: not only because current estimates show the deal, in total, will be worth $ 200 million somewhere in the north, as soon as Haaland’s salary and additional fees for agents will be considered, but because during to do so he. they may have devised a new concept of how agents shape the lives of their players.

The wisdom received, in football, has always been that players should – be open – always take money, great breaks, as soon as possible. It only takes one wound, after all, to explode well-laid plans; One summer passion could be a future thought. Clubs are changing, and everything has an expiration date.

Raiola overturned that by Haaland, preferring instead a delayed self-satisfaction policy. He did not pursue an eye transfer fee – as he had done, perhaps, for his other client, Paul Pogba – but instead built his client’s appeal more slowly, making sure he was in a position not just to do so. skip to one of Europe’s elite teams, but do so in a way that favored the player (and his representatives) rather than the club that happened to own his contract at the time.

City offer is a reward. Not a step without his attention: Manager Pep Guardiola has worked with some of the best strikers of the modern era, but not always with success. He has spent six years skillfully adjusting his system at City, and has had to completely overhaul to fit Haaland. Sometimes, though, soccer is a surprisingly easy game. A player who scores a lot of goals joining a team that creates a lot of chances must have only one result.

Although it is a final payment, it is a different matter. At about the same time as City prepared for his announcement, Mbappé was busy photographing lunch in Madrid. His contract at Paris St.-Germain expires in a few weeks and despite a huge unlikely offer to stay, he looks set to move to Real Madrid this summer. Funding for the deal will, most likely, reduce what City has offered Haaland.

This is the next logical step in the style that Raiola and the Haaland family have developed. It is a reflection of the real financial situation of football. There is no price that City, or PSG, feel compelled to sell a player. That leaves only one option: to end the contract and enter the free market.

That’s the challenge that awaits City, somewhere down the line. It won, this time, by convincing Haaland – its first true, plug-in star, someone who would be considered but never known as a franchise player – this was his best move. The question, for a player whose career is very well planned, without mercy, is whether it is also his last.

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