Burst out: Erling Haaland is UNHAPPY at Man City as striker want to pair together with Kylian MBAPPE in Real Madrid 

Burst out: Erling Haaland is UNHAPPY at Man City as striker want to pair together with Kylian MBAPPE in Real Madrid 













Haaland Madrid gfxGetty

Richard Martin


Erling Haaland is destined to leave Man City for Real Madrid one day – but could he thrive in the same team as Kylian Mbappe?


Manchester City

Erling Haaland

Real Madrid

Champions League

Real Madrid vs Manchester City


The Norwegian goal-machine insists he is happy in Pep Guardiola’s serial-winning side, but the allure of the Bernabeu is impossible to resist


Erling Haaland saw the window opening on his future and rather than slam it shut, he gave it a gentle nudge, letting more air in and giving the speculation room to breathe. The Manchester City striker was holding court in a press conference before the Champions League last-16 second leg against Copenhagen last month and was asked, given the constant speculation about his future, whether he had everything he wanted at City.


At first he talked glowingly about being “really happy, especially with the people I’m surrounded by. The manager, the directors, the board, I am really happy, I have to say”. This was the perfect moment to end his answer there and then, but Haaland paused for a second and changed direction.


“I say this now, it will probably be a massive headline, tomorrow you never know what the future brings, but I am happy. You can write this but you also have to write everything I said before. I am happy.”


This was the Norwegian being polite yet assertive at the same time. He is enjoying himself at City, he wanted to make that very clear. But he was also making it clear that City was not his final destination.


The next question was about whether he was going to sign a new contract with the club, an opportunity to knock the speculation into the sunset. But he opted against taking it and let it linger. “My focus is mainly now on the pitch, there’s a lot of games… so I think I should focus on that.”


The next game for Haaland to focus on is Tuesday’s Champions League quarter-final first leg away to Real Madrid, one of the few clubs he could realistically leave City for. Two years after rejecting a move to Santiago Bernabeu to follow in his father’s footsteps to the blue half of Manchester, the landscape has changed at Madrid. So would they still want to sign him?


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Mbappe Benzema Getty

Pathway blocked

Real Madrid had been following Haaland closely since he first began making a name for himself in the Champions League with Red Bull Salzburg, and while they did not seriously compete with Borussia Dortmund to sign him in January 2020, they made sure that when the next opportunity came to get him, they would be at the front of the queue.


Haaland’s then-agent Mino Raiola flew to the Spanish capital to meet Madrid representatives in 2021, while the striker and his father, Alfie, visited the Bernabeu in March 2022 to plot his next move. Haaland reportedly had reservations, though, about joining Real as Karim Benzema was in the form of his life, while it was widely expected that Kylian Mbappe was about to join Los Blancos after running down his contract with Paris Saint-Germain.


Haaland made his mind up a month later and agreed to join City, an option his father had rated as ’10/10′, in contrast to Madrid, which he rated as as ‘5 or 6/10’ due to the presence of Benzema and the likelihood of Mbappe joining. In the end, Madrid were left stood up by Mbappe, and after having two of the world’s best strikers within their grasp, ended up with neither.



Endrick Brazil 2024Getty

Planning for the future

Two years later and Benzema is seeing out his career in miserable circumstances at Al-Ittihad, but Mbappe looks set to finally join Madrid after again running down his contract with PSG. Madrid have also planned for the future by tying down teenage prodigy Endrick, who last month scored his first goal for Brazil against England at Wembley and then netted against Spain at the Bernabeu.


Haaland is not about to swap Manchester for the Spanish capital immediately, but the prospect of him joining Los Blancos in a not-so-distant future remains very much on the horizon, according to long-time Real Madrid journalist Tomas Roncero of Spanish newspaper AS.


“Madrid have not closed the door to Haaland, not at all. Quite the opposite. It’s a signing that in 2025 could easily happen,” Roncero tells GOAL. “The signing of Mbappe has already been agreed, and if Madrid want to keep growing they could easily go and sign Haaland next year.


“It also depends on the performance of Endrick, another centre-forward. If he has a good season, scores lots of goals and wins over the Bernabeu with Mbappe, with Vinicius with Rodrygo or Brahim Diaz or even Joselu, then maybe they won’t need to sign Haaland. But I don’t rule out Madrid signing him in 2025.”


Florentino PerezGetty Images

Perez’s Galactico mindset

While Endrick may prove to be a work in progress, Mbappe certainly won’t be. So would Madrid be big enough for him and Haaland?


Madrid president Florentino Perez based his first term around the Galacticos, cramming as many global stars into the squad as possible, but with ultimately disastrous results. His most successful stint as Madrid president, with Carlo Ancelotti and Zinedine Zidane at the helm, was the fruit of global stars such as Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale, but the contribution of selfless players such as Benzema, Casemiro and Luka Modric was just as valuable.


Perez learned that Madrid could not feed just off star power, but he has not lost his lust for making marquee transfers, as he proved last year by beating off competition from City and Liverpool to sign Jude Bellingham and his long pursuit of Mbappe. As Perez never tires of saying, “the best players in the world always have a place at Real Madrid”. And Haaland fits the bill.


“I would like to see him one day playing in white,” adds Roncero. “He’s a great, one of the best players in the world right now and he’s Norwegian, he’s a Viking, [Real are nicknamed Los Vikingos]. He suits Madrid, he has an incredible media personality, why not? So yes, I’d like to see Haaland end up at Real Madrid.”



‘Fit perfectly at Madrid’

The Madrid team of the near future has enough industry and energy that would allow Mbappe and Haaland to thrive. Ancelotti’s next great side will be built on a midfield of Federico Valverde, Bellingham, Eduardo Camavinga and Aurelien Tchouameni, which would allow Mbappe and Haaland to focus on what they do best, with back up from Vinicius Jr.


Although Haaland obliterated all the records in his stonking debut season at City, he has been scoring with his less freedom in his second campaign, albeit with the caveat that he missed two months with a foot injury.


Still, Haaland’s lack of an all-round game has been exposed in recent weeks, with Roy Keane hilariously describing him as “almost a League Two striker”. And there is a feeling that Madrid’s style of play, be it with Ancelotti or a future coach, could suit him better.


“The problem of Haaland in City is Guardiola’s model of play, which is very fluid and based on possession, and is not one that plays to Haaland’s strengths. Haaland needs more space,” Roncero adds. “Running into an open field, running through on the counter-attack, he’s brutal. When it comes to arriving in the box to meet crosses, he’s the No.1. But City’s football needs more patience, and against tight defences, he suffers.


“At Madrid possession is not everything. They like to have the ball, but Madrid play with quick transitions, with passes from deep and can play with a low block to then play dizzying counter-attacks. In that set up, Haaland would have a big part to play. He’d fit perfectly into Real Madrid.”



‘Not in a rush’

But even if Madrid might seem like Haaland’s ultimate destiny, City need not worry about him leaving imminently. The Norwegian helped fire City to the treble in his debut season and has developed a thirst for lifting trophies. Guardiola’s side have every chance of repeating last year’s historic achievement this season, and Haaland would be crazy to walk away from a club that guarantees him the best chance of silverware.


“I came in and won it all. I’m 23 and I won everything and I got a taste of it how it is to win, and how I work is that when I feel this I want to win it again – easy as that,” the striker said in the same press conference in which he teased his future.


Norwegian journalist Jens Friberg of newspaper Mediehuset Nettavisen has been covering Haaland since he arrived in Manchester and believes that he will remain at City as long as they can help him satisfy his lust for winning.


“Right now, Erling and City are doing so well, they’re a good match. He likes it a lot here. The rumours have cooled down a bit, it doesn’t look like he’s in a rush to make anything happen in the present time,” he says. “As long as he’s in the club that every season fights for the biggest titles, that’s the priority for him. So as long as City do that, he will be content as well.”


Erling Haaland Vinicius JuniorGetty

‘Always sniffing each other’

Friberg is reluctant to interpret Haaland’s comments about the future as a ‘come-and-get-me’ plea to Madrid. But he also acknowledges that a change in circumstances, such as Guardiola leaving City when his contract expires in 2025, or City being severely punished by the Premier League for breaching its financial rules, could lead to him leaving for the Spanish capital.


He adds: “We should be cautious to read too much into it as you do really never know, and he insisted we wrote that he’s also happy at City and Real Madrid wasn’t named. But he didn’t need to say it, put it that way.


“It depends on Pep and what Man City’s state is. But if they should have a downward turn or the charges kick in, he knows his market value, and that might be one of the things that would lead him to explore other opportunities.”


Given Madrid’s reputation as the most successful club in Europe and the fact that Haaland spends his holidays in Spain and has a house in Marbella, the speculation is unlikely to completely die down. “They’ll always be sniffing each other, the rumours around him and Madrid won’t go away until he goes there,” Friberg adds.


Projeto do novo Estádio Santiago Bernabeu, do Real Madrid, após reformaReal Madrid CF

‘River of money’ makes him affordable

The one potential stumbling block between Haaland joining Madrid is money. La Liga has a strict financial fair play policy and the club will have to comply with UEFA’s regulations, too. The Norwegian earns a reported £900,000 ($1.1m) per week from City and, unless he ran down his contract, he could cost Los Blancos in the region of £150m ($189m) in transfer fees.


However, even though Madrid are set to pay Mbappe a signing-on fee of up to €150m (£128m /$162m) and make him their highest-paid player, Roncero believes they would also be able to afford Haaland due to the income generated from the renovated Bernabeu.


“The club’s finances allow it, they could afford his salary easily,” he adds. “Thanks to the management of Florentino Perez and the river of money that is going to arrive with the new Bernabeu, Madrid could easily afford Mbappe, Haaland and all their other stars. That’s not a problem for Madrid, they’ll never not be able to afford him.”


And if Madrid did struggle to afford Haaland, there is a feeling that he might even drop his salary demands in order to make his dream move. “The thing that matters most is on-pitch success,” adds Friberg. “We don’t know exactly how much he makes, but you’d expect he’s a top-earner. It looks like Madrid is the one club that could sign him, and if Erling wants to go there enough, I don’t think he’d mind lowering his salary.”


Erling Haaland Man City 2023-24Getty Images

Enjoy him while they can

Haaland failed to score in either game against Real Madrid in last season’s Champions League semi-finals, but will have a third shot on Tuesday at the completed Bernabeu. It might not be an audition for an imminent role there, but given the pull factor of Europe’s glamorous club, Haaland will be extra motivated to make his mark.


“There is the Premier League, and there is Real Madrid. Real Madrid has something of its own that makes it the dreamland for the players. Madrid keeps this magic going,” Rafaela Pimenta, Haaland’s agent, said last year.


Speaking on the documentary Erling Haaland: The Big Decision, the striker’s father, Alfie, who has played a key role in his son’s every move so far, said that “You can’t really say no to Real Madrid.” But he and his son did indeed say no to Madrid, even though no one at the club could blame them at the time.


“No one knew that Mbappe would hang Madrid out to dry in the final stretch of the signing, but every Madrid fan could understand why Haaland chose another destination and went to City,” Roncero adds. “Then when we saw Haaland’s performance last season, obviously we went ‘Oof’. It was a regret, but nothing could be done. Last year, Haaland had an incredible season and deserved to win The FIFA Best award and the Ballon d’Or.”


It has even been suggested that Haaland would stand a better chance of winning the most prestigious individual prizes if he were at Madrid as opposed to City. But even without the Ballon d’Or, Haaland has become an icon in his own right, and the only player who can rival him in terms of fame is Mbappe.


“What he has developed at City is something more than a player, he’s a global brand,” adds Friberg. “He’s the cover of the new EA game.. He will never get the same fame as Mbappe because of the World Cup, but he’s a brand. He has twice as many followers on social media as the next player [Kevin De Bruyne] in the club. These things matter. Mbappe had a head start, but Erling is moving in that direction as well.”


Imagine how valuable Haaland would be if he did join Madrid, the most famous club in the world, and partnered up with Mbappe in their attack. It is a marketing dream, and no club has the ability to make dreams happen like Real Madrid. City fans better enjoy Haaland while they can.



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