Much like last summer with Jadon Sancho, Borussia Dortmund promise to be at the centre of the upcoming window’s biggest transfer saga, this time with Erling Haaland. But it is perhaps Sancho who is more likely to be allowed to leave than his team-mate.
Courted by Manchester United, Dortmund refused to lose Sancho on the cheap off the back of a 20-goal, 20-assist season a year ago and their £108million price tag proved prohibitive to the Red Devils. No other club was as seriously interested, despite the widespread admiration for Sancho’s abilities.
That price tag may have dropped slightly this summer and the 21-year-old England international, who looks ready to take the next step in his career, is entering the final two years of his contract this June, after which the fee Dortmund can demand will only decrease. That means there may not be such a protracted saga this year.
CEO Hans-Joachim Witzke was honest this week when he said: “If there is an exceptional offer, we will discuss it with the player and the agent, as always.”
Yet there was another line in his comments that may have major repercussions for Dortmund. “Jadon Sancho has been with us much longer than Erling Haaland,” said Watzke prior to admitting big bids will be weighed up.
It follows reports from The Athletic that say Dortmund are so determined not to lose Haaland that their stance that he is not for sale, or at least for any less than their £127million (€150m) valuation, will not change even if they fail to qualify for the Champions League.
That fee, in a market still impacted by the global coronavirus crisis, could price out several clubs. Especially given how much the centre-forward will want in wages and how much his representatives – Mino Raiola and his father Alf-Inge Haaland – will demand to help facilitate a deal.
It is completely fair that Dortmund would be more willing to sell Sancho than Haaland, given they have extracted so much from the former, who has produced an outstanding 46 goals and 60 assists in 130 appearances for BVB.
Dortmund are a selling club, and do so at great profit, and Sancho has now spent three seasons as a regular starter at the Signal Iduna Park. For a player of his ability, and the fact Dortmund have not won a single trophy in that time, that is a decent chunk of time.
The German giants stand to make at least eight or nine times the amount they paid (£8million) to sign the Watford-born forward, then just 17 years old, from Manchester City in the summer of 2017.
Yet whether Haaland will be so happy about his employers’ contrasting positions on his future and Sancho’s future remains to be seen.
Yet it appears they would rather do that than lose him now, possibly because they think they are likely to lose Sancho and do not want to offload two such high-quality attackers in the same window, maybe also because they think incoming manager Marco Rose can bridge the gap to Bayern next term if Haaland is leading the line.
But it remains to be seen if Haaland will accept that decision, particularly if – as expected – Dortmund are playing Europa League football next term. They trail fourth-placed Eintracht Frankfurt by seven points after losing 2-1 to the same opponents last weekend.
Given clubs are holding meetings with his team pitching themselves as the best next club for Haaland, it is fair to assume that there could be at least a bid or two for his talents in the summer.
And if Dortmund were to reject a big-money offer, while allowing Sancho to leave, that might not go down well with Haaland, who clearly feels he’s better than the Europa League. He is, to be fair.
That is potentially good news to United and to rivals Manchester City, Chelsea, Real Madrid and Barcelona.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has claimed United will not spend freely this summer but the Red Devils are one of few clubs able to pay Haaland’s reported wage demands, said to be over £500,000 a week, and who can spend £130m or more on a single player.
City have never paid such wages and have never spent over £64m on a signing, by contrast.
United have plenty of work to do and must convince Haaland and his people that playing under Solskjaer at Old Trafford is a better option than City, Chelsea or either of the two Spanish giants.
But if Dortmund let Sancho leave, unwittingly, the eight-time Bundesliga champions may improve the possibility of Haaland demanding a move too, especially if substantial offers are tabled for his services.
What United fans would do to see both Sancho and Haaland lining up at the Theatre of Dreams next season.